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Repurposed cotton gins are an iconic community landmark

Cotton Gin at the CO-OP District, Hutto, Texas

From 1937 until it closed in 2003, the Hutto Cotton and Grain CO-OP served the once primarily farming community of Hutto, Texas. The structures housing the cotton gin and bailing machinery, along with the original 24 silos, formed a familiar landmark and skyline for the community. The revamped Cotton Gin at the CO-OP is the first structure completed from the 2012 master plan for the 16-acre former agricultural co-op site.

Built around 1948, the two original cotton gin buildings were selectively deconstructed and adaptively reused to make a single open-air public events space to complement the future Hutto City Hall and Park. According to Michael Antenora, AIA, founding principal at Antenora Architects LLP, Austin, Texas, the design intent was to accentuate the iconic appearance of the remaining south gin building and further reinforce its place as a focal landmark at the Farley Street Terminus.

The goal was to "create a multipurpose, flexible, open-air events space for both public and private use that would complement and support the programmatic functions for the existing Hutto City Library, as well as future adjacent Civic Park and City Hall," Antenora says. "The building needed to be open and accessible for use as a farmers market and artisan fairs, but also accommodate private events such as wedding receptions and civic events."

According to Antenora, the city wanted to reuse the exiting gin structures due to their iconic landmark status in the community, which maintains a visual connection to their architectural past, as well as accommodates the modest project budget and sustainability goals. "The city also wanted to use the project as a catalyst to draw traffic and attention as a means to activate the site and attract a public/private development partner," he adds.

"The skin of the building is a critical feature of the design," Antenora explains. "The stainless steel panels have a staggered pattern of perforations with a 40 percent open area. This siding and perforation pattern was very purposefully chosen as the exterior siding material for the south façade for its ability to reflect the southern sun during the day, and for its transparency at night."

The 6,500-square-foot project was completed in November 2015. Moon Township, Pa.-based CENTRIA provided a variety of products, including 2,000 square feet of 20-gauge EcoScreen perforated screen panel siding; 4,000 square feet of 20-gauge BR5-36 solid metal wall panel siding; 7,700 square feet of 20-gauge Econolap 3/4-inch solid metal panel roofing; and 3,700 square feet of 20-gauge Econolap 3/4-inch solid metal panel siding.

Additionally, the project used approximately 33 tons of A36 steel in various shapes and sizes to renovate and reinforce the existing structure and to bring it into compliance with current building codes, and/or replace portions of the structure that was damaged.

Since the existing structure was almost entirely made of steel and iron, Antenora says using metal was both structurally and historically appropriate for the skin and frame. "[Metal] represented the most historically appropriate material and enforced a visual connection to Hutto's agricultural past of adjacent cotton gins and surrounding galvanized steel silos," he says. "Modern steel is ideal for its strength versus weight versus size, which allowed us to repair and reinforce the building frame without losing the elegance and delicacy of the original truss work and framing."

As the exterior siding material for the primary, south façade, perforated stainless steel was chosen for its eye-catching ability to reflect the ever-changing southern sun during the day and for its transparency at night. "The perforated steel and broad overhangs also serve to help fill the space with diffused natural daylight," Antenora explains. "For the secondary sides, solid metal panels were used that replicated the original skin, but with more durable, corrosion resistant coatings."

Additionally, Antenora explains that steel offered a multitude of design directions for aesthetics and functionality. "This flexibility allowed for the final design to be a mixture of both solid and perforated metal panels for wall and roof, which produced a more contemporary aesthetic and provided the city with a unique event space that was both flexible and functional."


The Cotton Gin at the CO-OP District, Hutto, Texas
2017 Institute Honor Awards for Architecture
Owner: City of Hutto, Texas
Architect: Antenora Architects LLP, Austin, Texas,
General contractor: American Constructors Inc., Cedar Park, Texas,
Structural engineer: Architectural Engineers Collaborative, Austin,
Metal installer: Kidd Roofing, Austin,
Metal wall/roof panels: CENTRIA, Moon Township, Pa.,, Circle #80