Wilton Architect and Client Win Two Awards for Design Excellence

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Rob Sanders of Rob Sanders Architects and Carol and Henry Hill of The Canine Fence Company have been honored with a Connecticut Preservation Award Commendation for “the rescue, preservation, and adaptive use of two endangered historic barns for the Hills’ business in Wilton.” The award was given by the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation at a ceremony at the State Capitol on April 7.

Rob Sanders of Rob Sanders Architects and Carol and Henry Hill of The Canine Fence Company have been honored with a Connecticut Preservation Award Commendation for “the rescue, preservation, and adaptive use of two endangered historic barns for the Hills’ business in Wilton.” The award was given by the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation at a ceremony at the State Capitol on April 7.

On the day of the Hartford award ceremony, the AIA Connecticut recognized The Canine Fence Company barn projects with a Building Design Award for a business with over 50 employees. From the award citation: “Sensitive site consideration. The architect has maintained the integrity of the original 19th century structure. The building design is restrained and has integrated the barns with the house. Elegant. . . Strikes a balance between the old and the new.”

As the company needed more space over the years, Carol and Henry Hill turned to Rob Sanders, A.I.A. for site planning, building design services, and his expertise in working with antique structures and the requirements of historic districts. Their collaboration began in 1990; the most recent project was completed in Fall, 2008.

Founded in 1983, The Canine Fence Company is the largest retailer of Invisible Fence Brand pet containment systems, and is housed on a distinctive campus consisting of several 19th century rural Connecticut structures at 489 Danbury Road. The property is located within the Cannondale National Historic District. In 1989, the company moved to the c.1840 Williams Nichols House, a 2 ½ story, center-chimney dwelling, and its 1,350 square foot carriage barn.

In 1995 the business needed to add a call center and staff training space.    Historic district regulations allow expansion only by moving and utilizing other antique structures within their district. Eventually Henry Hill found a collapsing, antique dairy barn on Pimpewaug Road, and turned to Rob Sanders to have it disassembled, rebuilt, and repurposed. In 2007 further growth demanded additional warehouse storage and office space. This need was accommodated in the old Sturges barn on Cannon Road, another mid-19th century structure which had been condemned. It was carefully taken apart and relocated to The Canine Fence Company’s campus.

In both projects, the barn timber frame was documented prior to reconstruction on new foundations. Reclaimed siding material of the barns was installed over new infill walls. New connecting structures between the original and relocated buildings provide functional and stylistic bridges, resulting in a company compound that provides distinctive and pleasant working environments, and which discretely accommodate the storage needs of a business within a National Historic District.

Adaptive use is part of The Canine Fence Company’s commitment to protecting the environment, where historic structures support a thoroughly modern company. The embodied energy of the repurposed buildings, enhanced by mechanical upgrades for efficient operation, joins their fleet of hybrid vehicles so employees, customers, their families and their pets can enjoy the outdoors for years to come.

Rob Sanders Architects, located in Wilton, provides creative, effective design sensitive to existing context and site conditions. The award-winning firm provides expertise in vernacular design, historic preservation, planning, and construction management for new construction and renovations for residential, cultural, commercial and community projects. Rob Sanders’ work has been published in “This Old House,” “Renovation Style,” and other national and local publications. RSA projects can be found in Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, and Maine.

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Rob Sanders

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