rhotenberry wellen architects, midland, texas

The simplest things are sometimes the most powerful. Mark Wellen's design for this no-frills shelter on an 8,000-acre working ranch in Texas struck a chord with our judges, one that continues to resonate in the architectural community.

The client, an admirer of architect Frank Welch's simple, haunting little building "The Birthday," approached Wellen with a similar program. She wanted a shelter for ranch operations, indoor-outdoor entertaining, and basic accommodations for an overnight stay. Wellen responded with "an elemental building using inexpensive pre-engineered materials," he says. "It's loosely based on oil-field buildings, compressor stations. I'm mesmerized by these simple forms." Plain-Jane steel framing and corrugated galvanized steel siding are made more "intimate and personal," says the architect, by the addition of salvaged stone and pine sheathing from the client's family home.

The result, said the judges, "is an extremely simple parti, but a very powerful object on this landscape."

project architect: Mark T. Wellen, AIA, Rhotenberry Wellen Architects
general contractor: Randy Crooks, Rafter C. Construction, San Angelo, Texas
project size: 1,920 square feet
site size: 8,000 acres
construction cost: Withheld
photographer: Hester + Hardaway Photographers