The Boxwood Winery

The Boxwood Winery in Middleburg, Virginia by Hugh Newell Jacobsen

Pphotographs are by Robert Lautman.

The architecture of Hugh Newell Jacobsen is unmistakable; his most well-known buildings are cellular compositions of boxes capped by pitched roofs, be them hipped or gabled. Within this formula Jacobsen finds numerous ways to connect and group the boxes, clad their exteriors, and use them towards creating inviting and sometimes transcendent interiors.

At The Boxwood Winery in Middleburg, Virginia, Jacobsen and his son Samuel exhibit the architect's signature approach, with a composition of hipped roofs capped by glazed cupolas. These pieces give the winery -- "a complex of four buildings: a reception for wine tasting; a fermentation chai with thirteen custom designed stainless steel fermentation tanks, a bottling building with storage, and a circular underground cave to house oak barrels" -- a unique expression and presence in the working landscape.

This exterior expression could be seen simply, and superficially, as a way of giving the complex a silhouette of sorts, though more accurately this profile is an expression of the interior workings of the winery. The reception (at left) is a single, short box with inviting, human-scaled windows and a dramatic, skylit peak that is like a halo for the serving bar in the center of the room, as if the importance of the wine in this final stage is impossible to ignore. The long, window-less fermentation room is capped by a series of cupolas that provide light without compromising the proper conditions required for the process taking place within. Likewise, the bottling room is devoid of windows, but a cupola is present for light and consistency.

The most unique of the four buildings is the circular underground cave for the oak barrels. While a full-height window gives a glimpse of this space from the reception area, the room is otherwise solid (with entry from the fermentation room and exit to the loading dock) and is capped by a mounded green roof that sets it apart from the expression of the rest of the building, in effect making it an element that bridges the building and the landscape. It's no small feat that the strongest and most unique interior space is the most downplayed exterior piece of the puzzle.