Deep in the hills of Utopia, John Grable, FAIA, has been working with a private client for over 10 years, creating a collection of structures stemming from a similar understanding of likes, dislikes, inspirations, and desires. “We both enjoy the industrial buildings that many do not consider architecturally significant,” Grable says. One of the patron’s interests is WWII-era artifacts. After completing a number of hangers for the client’s collection of WWII planes, it was decided that Grable would design a storage shed for heavy ranching and construction equipment. The client suggested the Quonset hut as inspiration.
The goal was to design a building big enough to house large machinery, but discreet enough to seem part of the land. Grable settled on a material palette of alternating bands of corrugated metal and translucent fiberglass, which minimizes the building’s mass, admits daylight, and pays homage to the horizontal ranch fences of the Texas Hill Country.
Trusses were constructed using recycled oilfield pipe, referencing the owner’s background in the oil and gas industry. A rooftop cupola and extra-large ceiling fans allow for natural ventilation. Pointed overhangs at each end of the building, reminiscent of a severe widow’s peak, create sloping shadows. By the end of the project, Grable and his team were referring to it as “Eddie Munster.”
In the end, Grable’s client was so enamored with the light-filled structure that he removed the heavy machinery it was built to house. It now sits empty, save for a few small tractors and two interior storage pods — a space that is valued for its own inherent qualities rather than its use.
Mackie Kellen was editorial intern of Texas Architect from July 2018 to July 2019. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in digital media and marketing at Trinity University in Dublin, Ireland.