Feb 25, 2016

Building the Barn: A Sacramento Region Landmark


It’s the structure that has everyone talking: what is that thing they’re building down by the river? The enigmatic, organically-shaped, wood-framed structure rising up next to the west bank of the Sacramento River can be seen by Highway 50 drivers heading west over the river, with a giant Brown Construction sign displayed proudly in front of it.  No, it’s not a spaceship.  No, it’s not a hobbit village.  It’s called “The Barn” and we at Brown Construction are very excited to be building this first-of-its-kind structure here in our very own backyard.  

The Barn is a vision being brought to life—a vision belonging to FULCRUM Property, the building’s owner/developer, and Jerry van Eyck of !melk, a New York City design firm, who see The Barn as a statement about the connection between “the wilds of the river” and “the organized geometry of the city.”

Already heralded to be “a landmark culinary and event location,” The Barn is designed to draw the community to the waterfront for open-air markets, alfresco dining, a beergarden, concerts, and other entertainment events. The Barn is located on West Sacramento’s River Walk Promenade, a one-mile-long stretch of natural river frontage, and it will play a key role in the 2016 and future TBD Fest events.

We caught up with Jerry Spain, Brown Construction’s project superintendent who spends his days leading the construction on-site, to ask him a few questions about his experience in building the project. 

What has been the biggest challenge so far on the project?

Jerry: Just wrapping our minds around the shape of the structure in the very beginning. From two-dimensional plans it was challenging to visualize what the project was supposed to look like. Most of what we build is very angular, and this was unlike anything we’d ever done before.

What are you most proud of on this project?

Jerry:  The coolest thing was watching the roof fly on its own. [Jerry is referring to the massive cantilevered roof that curves out over the ground providing a large canopy, which was being supported during construction by several steel posts concreted into the ground.]  When we took the final brace out underneath of it we had to throw caution to the wind and trust in the quality of our and the structural engineers’ work.

So what happened when you removed the last brace?

Jerry: It stood proud. It was a huge sense of satisfaction.

What has been the most fun for you on this project?

Jerry: Oh, it’s been fun from the start. There have been a lot of challenges in building The Barn, but it’s never been frustrating. Once you realize that what you’re building is a piece of art, and not just another project, then every day you’re working on an art project instead of a building.  It’s been really fun to see subcontractors and other staff have this same epiphany—that they’re doing something really special here.

Throughout construction, Jerry has been delighted to lead tours of curious interest groups through the job site explaining the structural engineering and construction feats that his team has accomplished on this project, and generally sharing his excitement for the significance of what we’re building here in our home city of West Sacramento.

The Barn is scheduled to be completed this summer.

The Barn in the news: http://www.sacbee.com/news/business/real-estate-news/article62692697.html#2