The Huron Building at Portage Prairie
Role: Sole Practitioner
The first building to be completed in the 400 acre Portage Prairie Development in South Bend, IN, the Huron sets the standard for modern design inspired by the open prairie site. The 150,000 square foot flex building is based on the prototypical tilt-up concrete box, but with a simplicity and elegance that makes the project part building, part sculpture. The curving, projecting, and cantilevered panels provide an ever changing array of light, shadow and reflection, giving this utilitarian building more esthetic appeal than one might expect from a speculative project.
The inspiration for the design of the Huron building is in part based on the compositional beauty of the barn and farmhouse against the horizon, and in part on the Prairie style idea of incorporating natural forms directly into the construction of the building. Specifically, the curved concrete panels reflect the natural forms of the prairie grass, but they go well beyond just ornamentation, as is typical of Prairie Style architecture, and actually become the main 3-dimensional element of the buildings profile. Also, just as the typical farm is made up of juxtaposed vertical and horizontal forms, including the barn, the farmhouse, the silos and a tree or two, the Huron juxtaposes horizontal and vertical elements including canopies, panels, glass, and the vertical curves, to make a composition of light, shadow, reflection and profile along its 700 feet of length. The white color is also both a reflection of typical white barns and farmhouses, as well as the best color for enhancing light, shadow and profile.