“When you take a horse out of its comfort zone- the wild-it’s your obligation to create an environment that protects its health and safety. A poorly designed barn can be worse than no barn at all. A good barn is not just a building, it’s an engine.” –John Blackburn.
John Blackburn knows horse barns. PERIOD. As Blackburn Architecture’s founder and senior principal for the past 25 years, John has designed projects throughout the United States and abroad with clients that include elite Thoroughbred breeders, Fortune 500 executives and famed Southern families with Civil War-era provenance including….
….private farms for Washington Wizards/Capitals co-owner Fredrick D. Schaufeld, real estate icon Robert H. Smith, the Shriver family, the late billionaire and philanthropist John Kluge, the iconic Thoroughbred mega-farm… Lane’s End Farm [the Wall Street Journal named it “the Central Park of horse farms”], Sagamore Farm [owned by Kevin Plank, the founder and CEO of Under Armour and the former home to Alfred G. Vanderbilt and legendary race horses such as Native Dancer, Discovery and Bed O’Roses], the innovative Round Lot Farm, the classic Middleburg spread Heronwood Farm, Morven Stud, the Washington International Horse Show facility, Pegasus Ranch, the Saratoga Racecourse, EMO Stables, HITS Saugerties Horse Show grounds and many, many more. John has raised the bar on stable design and horse keeping and won many awards along the way.
John runs a six-person team, five architects and a bookkeeper, in a 3,000 square-foot office near Washington’s Dupont Circle [which by the way, is one of my favorite areas of the city. Read more about it in our WIHS City Guide]. A “barn raising” designed by Blackburn averages between $1 to $3 million depending on the number of stalls and the materials… slate roofs, brick floors and oak paneling push costs up.
John’s first book, Healthy Stables by Design, features stunning photography of his favorite projects to date and demonstrates his mission and passion to turn traditional sheltering practices for horses on its ear… “My whole shtick is designing for the health of the horses… you want to design barns to ventilate naturally because as soon as you take a horse out of nature and put it in a barn or paddock, you are asking for trouble. Your barn is functioning as Mother Nature, and you control the environment and health of that animal. If you don’t it properly, you run the risk of hurting your horse.”
John introduces us to the concepts of aerodynamic ventilation, strategic natural light, and passive solar heating and cooling into modern barn designs. And he was “green” before it was cool, using natural, local and recycled materials in conjunction with the natural climate to create optimal living environments for equines. He also specializes in adaptive reuse and historic preservation projects. What a cool guy!
He was also featured in Equestrian Quarterly’s article on modern barn design, “Let There Be Light.” John will be at the Washington International Horse Show and the Alltech National Horse Show doing book singings!
I also love his blog, tableMinded, for a “behind the curtain” peak at his design process and his open forum to discuss the nitty-gritty details of horse keeping [John personally answers every single question and comment!].