Located in rural Cass County, Missouri, this project began with the client’s desire to create a ranch retreat for the family. Nicknamed “LDV Ranch” (La Dolce Vida translates to “The Good Life”) the main goal of the project was to build a retreat unlike anything else in the area. Having begun the ranch with a large man-made lake, the barn building serves as a gathering space for family and friends, as well as a venue for the frequent philanthropic functions hosted by the client. From the first approach, a custom-designed logo upon a rustic tube metal frame that sits on top of stone columns greets guests. The artful driveway approach winds between 2 large existing cottonwood trees that were preserved to create a gateway. A stone bridge enhances the entry experience with subtle up-lighting to guide the way. Sculptural artwork is integrated throughout the site to represent the grandchildren of the owners.
The client wished to construct a timeless building with natural, long-lasting materials. The structure was entirely framed with timbers using methods inspired by traditional Amish Carpenters. The interior highlights these timbers by leaving them exposed. The main hall exterior was clad in stone giving a sense of solidity to the central core. Not only do these materials enhance the project’s rustic nature but maintenance is reduced, allowing more time for enjoying the ranch. The barn was carefully sited to take advantage of the views, save existing trees, and work with the natural topography of the site. To avoid large amounts of earthwork, the outdoor terrace steps down to accommodate the slope. Just off the main hall of the barn, a concrete terrace with seat walls and a 10′ diameter fire pit was designed to accommodate large parties but also not overwhelm intimate family gatherings. Generous openings allow guests to pass easily between the interior and exterior spaces. From the terrace, a path leads through the trees to the lake beyond.
Several design features enhance the sustainability of the project. The timber structure is long-lasting and potentially re-usable and most of the other materials can be recycled. Windows, including a central lantern, are placed to provide abundant natural light and ventilation. High-efficiency HVAC equipment was chosen to help reduce energy consumption. Locating the barn to work with the existing grade limited disturbance to existing topography, trees, and drainage. Native plant species were used where possible to reduce the need for water.
The interior walls between the timber framework are plastered and trimmed with wood matching the timber. Concrete was used for the interior floor and outdoor terrace, while the loft was floored with wood planking. Fiber cement lap siding was used to clad the first-floor walls and again wood trim provides continuity with the timber balcony and covered porch. The main hall was clad with stone which was also used for the terrace walls and other landscaping elements on the site. The exterior was finished with a standing seam metal roof.