As the rate of new construction and renovation in the greater Ithaca area continues at a rapid pace, architecture is playing an ever more important role in defining our community. Given this, Tompkins Weekly will be running a series of articles that examines the architects and firms whose work is becoming an ever-more-visible component of our county. For the first article in this series, Tompkins Weekly spoke with Gideon Stone and Michael Barnoski, founders of Trade Design Build.
Trade Design Build believes in the integration of architecture and construction and fabrication. Since its inception, it has had a number of high-profile projects. The initial incarnation of the firm was started in 2011 by Gideon Stone as a solo design-build firm.
“Agava was my first gig,” Stone said. “I moved on from that and did some small construction projects from there. I ended up doing Bookers buildout. Then I got the gig over at Graft, which was initially the tasting room of Atwater’s Vineyard on Seneca Lake.”
In 2016, Michael Barnoski joined Gideon, and Trade Design Build was formally started. The two had gone to school and worked at Holt Architects together. Barnoski said they spent a couple months setting up, with the Iron Design as the first official project.
“It was just around that time that we started talking to Ashley Cake and Dave Thomas about the Watershed,” Barnoski said. “It was a really nice symbiotic moment for both businesses, as they were just starting out and it was our first high-profile commission, and we were able to put our product out on the market in a pretty interesting way.”
Their work on this space was noticed, as the Watershed project was honored with an Excellence in Design award from the Southern Tier American Institute of Architects. The work at the Watershed also provides excellent insight into the way Trade Design Build approaches a project.
The business’s underlying philosophy is to go through the design process with the end goal of buildability. Stone said he went back to school to study architecture when he was 22, wanting to work on improving the historically tense relationship between architects and carpenters.
“The idea of being able to build something beautiful and meaningful, and potentially affordable, really just comes down to being able to step into a process with a good vision and understand what the process of construction is and how to utilize that in bringing good architecture to an end product,” Stone said.
Stone has always been interested in the design-build process, he said. “It’s not a situation where an architect who doesn’t have any experience in the field sits down to draw something and just passes it off to the client and builder and they’re left to go figure it out and bring actual buildable logic to an idea,” Stone said.
As far as a focus for the business, they have found a niche in the hospitality industry. While certainly not wanting to limit themselves and the projects they take on, Stone and Barnoski see a definite opportunity for their brand of design-build work in that industry.
“Having done a few bars and restaurants before we formed Trade, we got a taste for that kind of work, this type of market and space in the hospitality industry,” Stone said. “Restaurants, wineries, breweries [are] a really interesting opportunity to do some cool stuff because, as a business, they need something that will set them apart, something that expresses their identity.”
Barnoski said it is also a showcase for exploring how much impact a design can have on the mood of a location. This makes it a good opportunity to understand a business’s identity and vision and craft a design around that, he said.
“If you come to us with your vision or who we are as a business and these are our goals, this is where the real fun is,” Barnoski said. “It’s in converting that into the physical environment, and it is a more rewarding process for us, and I think it delivers a much more rewarding product for the client in the end.”
The most recent Trade Design Build project is the Lucky Hare tasting room in Ithaca’s Press Bay Alley, a small place that required a creative approach to making a functional bar space with both inside and outside features. Stone described developing it as working in a limited space, and understanding the garage door elements of that space were crucial.
“Mike was able to put a design together that incorporated a bartop that, when the door’s closed, is folded down and it turns into their signage,” Stone said. “In the summertime, the garage door goes up and is able to expand out into the alley, and it just has this expandability and adaptability to such a small space.”
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