Click on the link above to see the full feature in the January/February edition of Chapel Hill Magazine on the unique modern, sustainable, custom-designed house designed by Blueplate PR clients by Doug Pierson, AIA, and Youn Choi, partners and founders of pod architecture + design in Chapel Hill, NC. This “labor of love” is for their own family of four.
pod architecture + design turns tank expansion into modern pavilion at Rabbit Hole Distillery
Expanding a bourbon distillery’s tank space is rarely an architectural opportunity. Tank rooms are hard-working, utilitarian structures where huge metal tanks ferment, distill, and filter the owner’s spirits of choice.
Nothing to see here.
That would be true for this project in downtown Louisville if it wasn’t taking place on founder and CEO Kaveh Zamanian’s Rabbit Hole Distillery campus in the NuLu district. It would also be true if architect Doug Pierson, AIA, and Youn Choi of pod architecture + design were not designing it.
Zamanian, Pierson, and Choi first put their heads together to create Rabbit Hole’s modern, predominately metal, 55,000-square-foot distillery, which the president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association has called “a modern monument to our historic industry.” (Rabbit Hole received the 2018 Grand Award from Modern Construction
For their latest collaboration, Zamanian’s clear vision fused with Pierson’s and Choi’s design moxie to give his idea form, function, and ample space to house three new 12,000-gallon fermentation tanks, allowing Rabbit Hole to expand its production of award-winning bourbon. Construction should begin in January 2021 and be complete by April 2021.
The tank expansion structure will be situated north of the blackened-wood louvers that surround Rabbit Hole’s “Manufacturing Atrium” where the main tank room and copper stills are located. Understanding the pedestrian nature of the NuLu neighborhood, they will position the 1100-square-foot structure to address both “Nanny Goat Strut’ and “Billy Goat Strut” alleys. Both alleys have been locally famous since the 1800s for the annual beer festival and goat races that take place there. Federal grants will soon fund a restoration of the area.
Pierson and Choi know Zamanian wants only imaginative design and finely crafted construction near his beloved distillery — a sentiment they share, of course — no matter how utilitarian its purpose or diminutive its size. They embrace his intent to respect and enrich Rabbit Hole’s hip, historic urban context.
To that end, they designed the tank expansion building as a transparent pavilion with perforated metal exterior panels that recall similar panels on the distillery. Passersby will be able to see inside.
“It will act as a kiosk-like structure that greets visitors from the Market Street greenway entrance as well as Nanny Goat Strut Alley,” Pierson explained. “It not only faces the alley but also improves it by adding landscaping and a green roof, lighting and security, and a contemporary, civic-like structure that entices people into the space.”
And because the perforated panels will be illuminated from behind, Pierson and Choi believe the building will be a lantern in the dark at night for city pedestrians and for Rabbit Hole staff walking from the distillery’s Market Street entrance.
The small, modern building will also create an outdoor courtyard for distillery visitors and staff to enjoy.
Pierson and Choi will eventually hand the project off to Luckett & Farley, the Louisville-based Architect of Record.
The crown jewel of an urban campus in the heart of downtown Louisville, the award-winning Rabbit Hole Distillery is a new, modern, 55,000-square-foot distillery introduced to an industry steeped in tradition. READ MORE
RENDERING OF FRONT PORCH AND PUBLIC ENTRANCE, by pod a+d
pod architecture + design, an interdisciplinary design firm based in Chapel Hill represented by Blueplate PR, has been commissioned to design Liberty & Plenty Distillery, a new start-up craft distillery planned for downtown Durham that will produce rum, whiskey, gin, and flavored vodkas.
Solely owned by head distiller Tina Williford, MSc, of Raleigh, the project will involve the adaptive re-use of a former distillery in a one-story, brick, 3400-square-foot building at 609 Foster Street. Built in 1938, the structure was originally an RJ Reynolds tobacco packing house and warehouse. The back patio of the property’s Rickhouse event space (formerly an aging warehouse where packed tobacco barrels were stored) faces the old Durham Bulls stadium.
“I love the architectural concept of contrasting a fresh, contemporary space within the steel and wood patina of the prizery,” Williford says. The prizery was the place where the tobacco was “prized” or pressed into hogshead barrels for shipping. “Two traditional types of copper stills and other vacuum-based techniques will be used for distillation and blending based on the spirit created. This use of the space and the distilling processes complement and balance the old and the new.”
According to Doug Pierson, AIA, co-founder and principal architect at pod a+d, the architectural idea for Liberty & Plenty “focuses on the entry, the bar, and on the way visitors will experience the distillery.”
To that end, he and his partner, co-founder/designer Youn Choi, have custom-designed a multi-functional “furniture bar” to accommodate product tasting, retail displays, bottle sales, and casual seating for distillery events in one elegant furniture item.
RENDERING OF THE MULTI-FUNCTIONAL “FURNITURE BAR,” by pod a+d
The “furniture bar” will also create a visual and physical separation between guests and the production process. A physical separation is a state requirement for all operating distilleries.
“In other words, we’ll feed two birds with one seed,” Pierson said. “The furniture bar will satisfy the state mandate while accommodating a host of distillery needs.”
Like their client, the pod a+d team also believes the textural contrast between the clean lines and smooth wood of the furniture bar and the unrefined nature of the old brick building will be part of Liberty & Plenty’s appeal.
As for the name: The unique nomenclature for Williford’s future distillery is as North Carolina-centric as the location: It’s derived from the N.C. State seal. At the center of the seal are two robed figures, “Liberty” on the left and “Plenty” on the right.
This project marks the fourth spirits distillery that pod a+d has designed, including the 55,000-square-foot Rabbit Hole bourbon distillery in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, which has received two design awards to date.
About pod architecture + design
At pod a+d, we believe in the integration of architecture and all aspects of design to connect buildings + environment + identity. That’s why pod a+d is a hybrid firm, offering all architectural services, environmental design, experiential graphics, and wayfinding design. Exterior and interior architecture; furnishings and finishes; financial feasibility and scheduling; engineering and construction; and experiential graphics – considered simultaneously, these disciplines inform our hybrid/integrated approach to architecture. For more information: www.podand.com.
When Durham Magazine editors looked around the Triangle to discover how a sampling of residents are making the most of the current COVID-19 quarantine, they called Blueplate PR client pod architecture + design in Chapel Hill to chat with architect Doug Pierson and experiential graphics designer Youn Choi, partners in life as well as the award-winning firm. The magazine posted the full story at durhammag.com/how-we-live-now-in-quarantine/. Below is Doug’s and Youn’s segment (plus the recent family photo by Jeremy Lange for the Wall Street Journal).
* * *
Carrboro architects Doug Pierson and Youn Choi of pod architecture + design and their kids, Oscar, 18, and Sora, 15, live in a temporary townhome on Smith Level Road while they wrap up on a custom-built house they designed in Carrboro near South Green. Doug writes:
We are expecting our certificate of occupancy for our new house in a couple weeks, but it has been a challenge to finalize with the pandemic and stay-at-home requirements in place.
So, as we prepare for our eventual move, we are using our property as a “stay-at-home” retreat where we have family outdoor time. Activities include working on the house and site; checking out fish in our stream; walking to the old 1930s community Sparrow Pool ruin in our woods; having a picnic; homework; bike rides and walks.
The editors of Metal Construction News (MCN), the premier national news magazine for the metal construction industry, have tapped North Carolina architect Doug Pierson, AIA, to serve as one of only three judges for their 2019 Building and Roofing Awards.
Pierson and his partner Youn Choi are co-owners and principals of pod architecture + design. Their Chapel Hill-based firm received the highest honor – Grand Winner — in MCN’s 2018 awards program for their design of the 55,000-square-foot Rabbit Hole Distillery in downtown Louisville, Kentucky.
“Because that honor meant so much to us, I was incredibly honored when [Senior Editor] Mark Robins asked me to serve as a judge this year,” said Pierson, who is also a faculty member at NC State University’s College of Design.
Projects have been submitted to the Building and Roofing Awards in five categories: Metal Buildings, Metal Roofs/New, Metal Roofs/Retrofit, Metal Walls/New, and Metal Walls/Retrofit.
Pierson and the other two judges will receive the entries digitally on October 4th. On October 14 they will confer with the MCN staff to determine the best three submissions in each category and the 2019 Grand Winner. The judges may also suggest projects worthy of a “Judges’ Award.”
This is the 33rd year that Metal Construction News has showcased innovation and excellence in the metal construction industry through its awards program.
MCN is a Modern Trade Communications, Inc., publication. For more information, go to metalconstructionnews.com.
For more information on Doug Pierson and pod architecture + design, visit www.podand.com.
In a ceremony in Cincinnati, Ohio, last week, Doug Pierson, AIA, and Youn Choi, partners at pod architecture + design (pod a+d) in Chapel Hill, NC, received their second design award for Rabbit Hole Distillery, the metal, glass, and blackened wood structure they designed in downtown Louisville, KY, that the president of the Kentucky Distillers Association called “a modern monument to our historic industry.”
Earlier this year, pod a+d’s distillery design claimed the top “Grand Award” honor in Metal Construction News’ annual awards program.
The Kentucky chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) presented its awards during the AIA Ohio Valley Region’s “Celebrating Design Awards Luncheon” on September 19 at the Hilton Netherlands Plaza in Cincinnati.
The awards jury praised the new distillery as “an exuberant extension of industrial language with playful materiality. There is a legible and contemporary expression of both corporate identity and the process of making at various scales. In this way, the process of production becomes part of the architecture.”
According to Pierson and Choi, the design embraced the strategy “form follows process” as they allowed the building to take shape in direct response to the bourbon production process it houses.
The design also expresses owner Kaveh Zamanian’s vision for “transparency and craft,” another aspect the awards jury appreciated: “The architectural language in section builds up to create programmatic density in some moments and transparency at the atrium.”
The building’s “strong relationship to the street” impressed the jurors as well.
For more information on Rabbit Hole Distillery, visit www.rabbitholedistillery.com.
For more information on pod a+d, visit www.podand.com.
About pod architecture + design:
At pod a+d, we believe in the integration of architecture and all aspects of design to connect buildings + environment + identity. That’s why pod a+d is a hybrid firm, offering all architectural services, experiential design, and wayfinding. Exterior and interior architecture; furnishings and finishes; financial feasibility and scheduling; engineering and construction; and environmental graphics – considered simultaneously, these disciplines inform our hybrid/integrated approach to architecture. For more information: www.podand.com.
On August 21, pod architecture + design (pod a+d), the award-winning design firm previously located in Carrboro, moved its multi-disciplinary studio from the historic Depot on that town’s Main Street to offices at 201-A North Columbia Street in Chapel Hill.
The move reflects the partners’ desire to establish their studio in the more nationally known Chapel Hill since many of their projects are located outside North Carolina. Examples include Rabbit Hole Distillery in downtown Louisville, Kentucky; Sixty Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California; and a new distillery in Brooklyn, New York.
Doug Pierson, AIA, and his wife, experiential designer Youn Choi, are the founders, partners, and principal designers at pod a+d. They relocated the firm from Los Angeles to North Carolina a few years ago and have been operating out of the converted 1882 Depot in Carrboro since 2013.
While they’re quick to say they’ve thoroughly enjoyed the historic Depot, something was always nagging at them,..
pod a+d is licensed in five states because the firm’s work frequently takes its team of designers from North Carolina to California and other project sites in between. And more often than not, whenever they’ve told out-of-state clients that their firm is headquartered in Carrboro, the look on their faces has made them add quickly, “…which is right next door to Chapel Hill.” The nods and smiles afterward spoke volumes. Like Duke University in Durham, UNC-Chapel Hill has given the town a national reputation.
“Ultimately, it made sense to us to align our firm with that distinction,” Choi said. So they loaded a moving van at the Depot, drove a few blocks northeast, and unloaded the van at 201A North Columbia Street.
“We’re looking forward to settling into our new studio and enjoying all the opportunities available in Chapel Hill’s downtown district,” Pierson added.
The studio move has taken place just a couple of months before Pierson, Choi, and their two children will move into the new modern house they designed that’s currently under construction in Carrboro.
About pod architecture + design
pod architecture + design (pod a+d) is a full-service, award-winning, non-traditional architecture firm located in the Triangle region of North Carolina and licensed in five states. As a firm, we believe in the integration of architecture and all aspects of design to connect buildings, environment, and identity. That’s why pod a+d is a hybrid firm, offering all architectural services, environmental design, experiential graphics, and wayfinding design. Exterior and interior architecture; furnishings and finishes; financial feasibility and scheduling; engineering and construction; and environmental graphics – considered simultaneously, these disciplines inform our integrated approach to architecture. For more information: www.podand.com.
pod architecture + design, Luckett & Farley present scheme to investors at special event
During a special event held recently in downtown Louisville, KY, pod architecture + design (pod a+d) of Carrboro, NC, and Luckett & Farley architects and engineers of Louisville, presented a surprising concept for a modern, environmentally sustainable, mid-sized distillery to an assemblage of investors.
Designed for the event’s host, J.W. Rutledge Distillery of Middletown, KY, the 69,000-square-foot facility is intended for 140 picturesque acres of gently rolling grassland just outside Louisville. The architectural concept suggests an elegant, two-building composition linked by physical representations of various elements of the distilling process. In form and footprint, the concept engages the landscape and gently steps downward toward Floyd’s Fork, allowing the process of bourbon-making to flow naturally via gravity, from grain delivery all the way to barreling.
The distillery would also be oriented to convert the naturally occurring stillage (the byproduct of bourbon making) into energy via a biomass digester and to capture heating and cooling through a geothermal pond loop.
This innovative solution was designed by Douglas Pierson, AIA, and Youn Choi, pod a+d’s co-founders and Luckett & Farley’s President/CEO Aric Andrew and Vice President/Distilling Marketer Kyle Beasley. pod a+d and Luckett & Farley also worked together recently as architect and engineers, respectively, on the award-winning Rabbit Hole Distillery in downtown Louisville.
With a projected budget of $20-$25 million, Rutledge’s sustainable distillery will produce “World Class Bourbon and Rye whiskeys,” says Jim Rutledge, owner and multi-award-winning Master Distiller, on his website. “We will produce Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and Straight Rye Whiskey the ‘old-fashioned way’ relative to the requisites, guidelines, and standards for Straight Whiskey production that have been in place for close to two centuries.”
“This one of a kind campus will engage a breathtaking site in a manner that honors an old-fashioned tradition done well while looking toward the future to thrive,” Pierson added.
The Investor Tasting Event took place in the Mint on Mellwood, a renovated industrial building in downtown Louisville. Investors enjoyed specialty bourbon and light refreshments while they discussed the proposed distillery with the J.W. Rutledge executive management team.
For more information on pod architecture + design: www.podand.com
For more information on Luckett & Farley: www.luckett-farley.com.
For more information on J.W. Rutledge Distillery: www.jwrutledgedistilleryllc.com.
Douglas Pierson, AIA, LEED AP, BD+C, co-founder and a principal designer of pod architecture + design (pod a+d), has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the Triangle section, American Institute of Architects (AIAT) for a two-year term.
The AIA Triangle’s mission is “to serve its members and the Triangle community by enhancing and promoting the profession of architecture.” The AIA Triangle Board of Directors governs the overall execution of the organization’s mission.
Within the last two years, Pierson and his wife, co-founder/principal designer Youn Choi, relocated their firm and family from Los Angeles, CA, to Carrboro, establishing their studio in the historic train depot building on Main Street.
As a relative newcomer to the area, Pierson has been immersing himself in the Triangle region’s architectural community, first by becoming a Professor in Practice at the NC State School of Architecture, then by joining the Triangle Architecture & Design Society (TADS). He and Choi have also hosted a “Thirst4Architecture” networking event sponsored by North Carolina Modernist Houses and opened their studio to the public as part of AIA Triangle’s recent “Firm Crawl.”
“Joining the AIA Triangle Board is an honor and a great opportunity to serve the profession in and around our new hometown,” said Pierson. He hopes to use his experience with nonprofit organizations, community service, fundraising, advocacy, and education to support the work of the Board.