The Casey Trees Research Outpost is conceived as an outpost on the frontier of tree-related research in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. Partly modeled after the National Great Rivers Research Center which is committed to applicable research focused on the nation’s rivers, the Casey Trees Research Outpost (CTRO) would serve as infrastructure and incubator relating to urban and rural forestry issues of all kinds.
The Outpost is designed to provide a stimulating, collaborative working environment for researchers, as well as a visitor center for the Casey Tree Farm site.
Architecturally, the design strategy for retrofitting the existing barn buildings is to identify new programs for the buildings that fit the contemporary needs of Casey Trees but modify them in such a way that does not detract from the historical character of the building or site. In the case of the barns complex/CTRO, our approach is to adhere to the original structural layout of the barns as much as possible while retrofitting them with the type of spaces and services that will contribute to the types of cutting edge research that we envision taking place there.
With respect to materials, the interior spaces will be fashioned as much as possible with recycled materials from the barn itself or other structures or ecologies on the site. Programmatically, the barn is divided into two main zones: public and private - , each with their own courtyard. The public courtyard would remain exterior and the private would be covered with a new roof to enclose an ‘exchange’ space for the employees.
This space becomes a central hub for researchers and other resident collaborators such as artists and Casey Tree employees. The open plan lab space is located in the yard encompassed by the former horse stalls. To create a more relaxed atmosphere, there would be lab tables but also lounge seating and gathering spots for employees to congregate and discuss ideas.
A cafe/lounge, restaurant and research library straddle the public and private courtyards that employees and visitors can enjoy. There would also be a workshop and digital fabrication lab located in the complex so visitors can learn and appreciate the experimental work being done with various wood construction.
Utilizing the existing barn with new construction makes for a compelling and rich use of old buildings with new design enhancements. The barn would be retrofitted wth a new roof over the yard for lab space, wood furniture milled with a CNC machine, and bold swatches of colorful partitions for the library, cafe, and restaurant. The goal is to use innovative construction methods to challenge how one can use wood in new ways for small to large scale applications, such as furniture, benches, partition walls, ceilings, and window seats.
The newly generated visitor center and office space will bring a new and exciting atmosphere to the complex where people can share ideas and see first hand the creative visions for wood construction and goals of the organization. In addition to the existing building stock, there will be a series of follies developed yearly and dispersed throughout the site.
Landscape Architecture: Gale Fulton