Historic Buildings and Communities:  (in progress)


Building in a Historic Context:  Five years ago, Jim Baerg spent two months in Scandinavia on an Architecture Study tour.  Out of that experience, he developed the following theory of design:

First:  A new building works best in context if it matches or relates to the scale and rhythm of its neighbors.  Building size, window spacing and entrances are critical.  We see this in European cities, partially destroyed in the war, when new buildings are inserted between historic neighbors.  The sense of history, of human scale and the metabolism of human activity is restored if this scale is maintained.

Secondly:  Matching structures and materials to the original is not critical.  Indeed, we would expect that building methods change over time and that mimicing surfaces when the bones of a building are radically different is not an honest approach to architectural expression.  Contemporary buildings in historic settings often fit in surprisingly well if scale and rhythm are maintained.

Finally: Save a lot of design energy (and a bit of the budget) for the small detail.  Elements that people touch, such as door knobs and handrails are very effective places to personalize a building.  Touch, color, light and sound are under-emphasized aspects of the architectural toolbag.

I'm not a historical stylist who picks and chooses among styles, rather, I attempt to embed my thinking process into the existing milieu to tease out the trajectory of history.  Often the end result is quite modern, but the new design will be in an obvious dialog with its surroundings.


Additions & Remodeling of Historic Buildings:

Studies and Travels:

Chinese style Solar Greenhouse

 Imagine, as a market gardener, growing fresh, organic food all year in Montana without any fossil fuels. Tomatoes into November and December, new greens starting in February. These off season crops offer higher profit margins because the alternative for consumers is the tired produce in the grocery stores.

The Chinese started developing solar greenhouses in the 1970's and now have over 3 million acres of them.  Their mature design grows vegetables year-round and is energy self sufficient up to the 42nd parallel.

We are currently working with a Montana market gardener to build a commercial solar greenhouse next year. Our goals are to use the Chinese model and proportions but adapt to our local materials and building practices.  We know that the building will have to perform well, but also be inexpensive enough to make the economics work.

Please call or write if you have interest in a similar project.



Jim Baerg Montana Energy+Design
223 S. 5th St.
Livingston, MT 59047
406-220-1498 jlbaerg@gmail.com