architect: el dorado
location: Herington, Kansas, USA
Hogdgon Powder is a gunpowder manufacturing plant located in the Flint Hills of Central Kansas,
a region containing the last remaining indigenous tall grass prairies in the Midwest. The plant is located adjacent to a rural airport that was originally built during WW2 to service Bombers. The site for Hodgdon Powder has a muscular presence, a counterpoint to the delicate ecosystems of prairie grasses immediately surrounding its site. Continued growth required Hodgdon Powder to provide its 50 plant employees with a new office facility. The program required open office space for administrative functions, several conference areas, a dining area large enough for all employees, changing rooms, and a laundry room. The architect responded by creating a “campus” comprised of three equal Quonset Hut modules. In addition to organizing the program, the three Huts define quality outdoor space for employees, connecting daily human activity to the subtleties of the surrounding landscape. The pre-engineered building modules also allowed the project to remain within tight budget constraints of $135 per square foot, including interior build-out.
Due to the remote location of the office facility, the architects ultimately conceived the structure as a community center of sorts, capable of hosting casual barbeques, employee birthday parties, and family-related events. The Hodgdon office facility unapologetically situates contemporary architecture amongst agricultural sheds and fairground pavilions, privileging indoor space and outdoor space equally.