Bringing New Life to an Old Barn

The Challenge: “Rustic charm” is the first phrase that comes to mind when viewing the scenic Manassas event and music venue, Sweeney Barn. The two story destination space offers modern conveniences while maintaining the traditional beauty of its origins as an early 20th century dairy barn. Owners Noel and Alannah Sweeney saw its immense potential when they purchased the property. All they needed was an architect that understood their vision and had experience bringing older spaces up to current building code.

“One of my biggest concerns was maintaining the look and feel of the old barn while coordinating the design and placement of new services like the air conditioning, sprinkler system, elevators and a circular staircase in the silo,” said Noel Sweeney. “The local jurisdiction had never renovated a dairy barn, so designing a sprinkler system with the unique shape of the old barn was challenging. It was also difficult to design a complete thermal envelope for the upper banquet hall that worked aesthetically with the wooden interior.”

The Solution: After a great experience on a previous project, the Sweeney’s turned again to Loveless Porter Architects to make their vision a reality. “They were patient with the many design changes and requests I made during the process. They were very responsive to those changes,” noted Noel.

“We took a barn made for cows and hay bales and turned it into a space to comfortably seat hundreds of people,” said Loveless Porter owner Sean Porter. “The ceiling height in the lower level was less than 8 feet high. We raised the existing floor structure, set three new courses of block around the perimeter, and had to redesign the barrel vault connection to the top of the block wall. It was very tricky, but definitely worth the effort.”

The Result: Balancing unique design requests with building code requirements, Loveless Porter worked closely with the Sweeney’s to bring new life to this old Manassas dairy barn. The result, Noel says, is a timeless event space with the “wow factor” he envisioned. “Loveless Porter Architects is just an all around five star company that takes the relationship and end product very seriously. It’s clear they take great pride in their work!”