Perched on a bluff above the entrance to UC Santa Cruz, the Hay Barn overlooks the surrounding Cowell Ranch Historic District, greeting visitors as they pass through the former limestone quarry to central campus. The rehabilitation of the barn is unassuming yet iconic in its formal simplicity and dramatic siting. As home to one of the universityís most progressive programs, the Hay Barn is both an emblem of the campusí origins and a reassertion of its commitment to innovation.
This seemingly straightforward project presented a complex set of competing demands. The reconstruction had to conform to the stateís Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. It was required to adhere to current building codes and stringent energy requirements. The project also had to provide a permanent home for the Center for Agroecology, while being open for public events.
Our approach was one of rehabilitation rather than strict preservation. The goal was not to embalm the Hay Barn, but to extend its longevity through utility, to reconnect the barn to the Historic Cowell Ranch, to the organic farm, and to the central campus. Because our overriding principle was to do nothing to diminish the essential character of the historic barn, the implementation of our philosophy, to express what is old as old and new as new, was fraught with a myriad of wickedly nuanced design decisions. We chose, for example, to repress the bulky implications of required thermal insulation on the proportions of the building, but opted to express the windows and skylights added for daylight and ventilation. Original doors at either end of the barn were reconstructed, but an additional set of interior sliding doors, made of steel and Kalwall, were included to not only provide light, ventilation, and insulation, but to also maintain the scale of the original openings.
The heavy timber, mortise-and-tenon frame with massive 12x12 redwood sill plates and crafted joinery is a rare example of the tradition on the west coast. Master timber-framers precisely reconstructed the frame with salvaged members knit together with new, specially milled members. To maintain the massive scale of the barn, and to preserve the spatial experience of the overall volume, enclosed spaces, which include a kitchenette, meeting room, restrooms, and an open office area, were condensed into a service core along one side of the barn. This new service core is visually distinct without diminishing the barnís historic character.