MENOKIN GHOST STRUCTURE
THE MENOKIN FOUNDATION, WARSAW, VIRGINIA
AREA: 383 SF
PROGRAM: PAVILION, OUTDOOR CLASSROOM, EXHIBIT, Memorial
DURATION: FALL 2017—SPRING 2018 (BUILT IN 5 DAYS)
TOTAL COST: $13,000
AWARDS: 2019 SARA NY DESIGN MERIT AWARD, 2018 AIA VIRGINIA MERIT AWARD FOR ARCHITECTURE, 2018 ARCHITIZER A+ AWARDS SPECIAL MENTION
ARCHITECT: REID ARCHITECTURE PLLC, REID FREEMAN ARCHITECT
The Ghost Structure is a pavilion on the grounds of the Menokin Foundation in the Tidewater region of Virginia. Menokin is a former tobacco plantation and the site of the 18th century house of Francis Lightfoot Lee, one of Virginia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence. The rural 400 acre site is located in the Northern Neck Region of Virginia, close to the Chesapeake Bay, in an area of early colonial settlement. The Menokin Foundation is not only dedicated to the preservation of the Lee’s house ruin and grounds, but is actively engaged in reviving the stories and the contributions of all those who lived and worked on the site throughout its complex history. The Ghost Structure was commissioned by the foundation to help accommodate a steadily increasing number of school groups and visitors, to demonstrate 18th century timber framing techniques, while also acting as a literal and metaphorical platform to open conversations about the role that slavery played in early colonial plantations and our nation’s past. The structure is sited directly above archaeological remains of an 18th century slave dwelling and replicates distinctive regional colonial building techniques.
The Ghost Structure’s design stems from research of the few remaining 18th century timber structures in the isolated Northern Neck Region. The structure’s proportions and details are physical demonstrations of the region’s vernacular construction techniques that were gathered through surveys of remaining 18th and 19th century structures. Its overall footprint, 15.5’ x 25,’ is based on archaeological records of a former dwelling.
The framing of the Ghost Structure is left exposed and wrapped in a translucent building fabric to reveal its construction details as an educational component of the structure. The membrane protects the wood framing from the elements and provides comfortable daylight levels to the interior. At night, solar powered interior flood lamps highlight the structure’s tectonics and the structure serves as a luminous memorial to the site’s forgotten history and inhabitants. Transparency and luminosity are concepts linked to the foundation’s mission statement. The pavilion was constructed on site using local materials during a five day building workshop by a team of craftsmen, students, and volunteers and embodies the Menokin Foundation’s goal of promoting education in the building arts.