John Blackburn has always been a progressive thinker.

The equestrian facilities architect has never been one to be restricted by lack of imagination, often boldly thinking outside the box.

He’s been designing barns for more than 30 years, and his innovations place him well ahead of the curve. An emphasis on designing barns with strategic natural light and aerodynamic ventilation, are something he’s implemented and executed routinely when constructing barns with the best interests of the horses in mind, long before the phrase green barns was coined and became part of the vernacular.

The equine architect had been wanting to write a book for some time, and his tome, Healthy Stables by Design, co-authored by Beth Herman, places an emphasis on designing equestrian facilities with the horses health and safety as its primary concern. The first of those barns was constructed in Rock Hill, S.C., and Blackburn looked at barns in Aiken and Camden. His scientifically designed barns have been embraced by horsemen, and Blackburn has employed his expertise in designing more than 150 equestrian facilities.

A private event will be held at Glenwood Farm, hosted by owner Glen Lott and Anne Wilson, in Ridgeway, S.C. on Friday, and 50 percent of the proceeds of the books sold that evening will be donated to Equine Rescue of Aiken.

“The barn in Rock Hill was the prototype,” said Blackburn. “The photographs of the barns in the book showcase the design of the barns, where health and safety are the primary concern. The expense of the barns vary based on the number of attributes and features. People judge a book by its title. There’s no other book like it.”

Every owner has their own special needs, but the location of the barn, where it’s placed on the property, and its proximity to other buildings are all important variables, said Blackburn. When constructing his barns, Blackburn uses two principles that are both more than 150 years old, the Bernoulli principle and the chimney effect, emphasizing vertical ventilation. A number of the barns designed by Blackburn have innovative features including vented ridge skylights and Dutch doors to promote vertical ventilation.

There are four types of green barns that Blackburn usually builds, those with a shedrow; barns with center aisles; small barns, those with 12 stalls and large barns, structures with 24 stalls.

The green barns are very cost effective, said Blackburn. Owners can customize and develop their barn according to their needs.

For more information about Healthy Stables by Design, you can access the website at