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.
October 2, 2020 (Orange County, NC) — The Triangle Sons & Daughters of Italy, a member of the Order Sons & Daughters of Italy in America, has named Blueplate PR client Mark Spano of Orange County as its 2020 Outstanding Italian-American in North Carolina. The organization will present the award during its Annual Picnic and General Membership Meeting in Raleigh on October 11.
“This is an unexpected and exciting honor,” Spano said after receiving word of the award. “I am deeply grateful.”
The grandson of Sicilian immigrants, Mark Spano has been a prolific and well-known member of North Carolina’s film and television production community for many years. Over the last decade, he focused his talents and energy on his family’s homeland as he wrote, directed, and produced “Sicily: Land of Love and Strife,” a feature-length documentary.
His goal, he said, is to introduce viewers to “the many facets of the island nation that are relatively unknown to the public: the natural beauty, epic human struggle, depth and diversity of culture, philosophic insights, and historic places.”
After its official premiere in Spano’s hometown, Kansas City, Missouri, in April 2018, “Sicily: Land of Love and Strife” played to packed houses during an initial limited theatrical run in the U.S. and Canada. It was warmly received at the Toronto Italian Film Festival and has aired on select public television stations both here and in E.U. markets. (He discusses his documentary during an interview airing now on YouTube.) The film and companion book are available on Amazon.
During the coronavirus quarantine, Spano has channeled his passion into producing a short video tribute entitled “Dreaming of Sicily.” He is also working on a show about Sicilian wines.
For more information about the 2020 Outstanding Italian-American in North Carolina and his work, visit MarkSpano.org.
Sons & Daughters of Italy in America, the Triangle
Established in 1905 as a mutual aid society for early Italian immigrants, the Order Sons & Daughters of Italy in America (OSDIA) is the largest and longest-established national organization for people of Italian descent in the U.S. with over 600,000 members and 700 chapters coast to coast.
Local Italian-Americans founded the Triangle chapter in 2004. Since then, the group has funded scholarships to support students studying the Italian language and conducted a series of programs designed to “celebrate and preserve our culture and heritage and to promote and enjoy the warm family relationships so many of us grew up with.” For more information, visit trianglesonsofitaly.org.
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
The Paradis-Zimmerman home earns second place in the coveted Jury Awards category.
PHOTOS BY TZU CHEN
The modern, Net Zero house that Chapel Hill, NC, architect Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, designed for Kate Paradis and Scott Zimmerman received a high honor last week. Perched on a rocky knoll overlooking the rapids, the “Haw River House” received Second Place in the prestigious Jury Awards category during the 2020 George Matsumoto Prize, which recognizes excellence in modernist residential design.
NC Modernist, a nationally recognized educational non-profit organization, created the Matsumoto Prize in 2012 to honor modernist architect George Matsumoto, FAIA, one of the founding faculty members of North Carolina State University’s College of Design. The awards ceremony took place online this year.
According to NC Modernist executive director George Smart, the 2020 jury members “seemed to agree at the outset” that the 2600-square-foot house in the forest above the Haw River would be one of the three winners out of the 21 submissions.
“This is one of the houses I’m most proud of in my career so far,” Schechter said after the awards were presented. “I grew up on a river, New Hope Creek, which haunts me to this day. I hope I can work on other river-fronting houses because I feel tied to them.”
Arielle Schechter is known for giving her clients distinctly modern, environmentally sustainable houses that create as much or more energy than they use – i.e., Net Zero. The 2600-square-foot Haw River House is one of those. And like the others, it reflects its place — in this case, a harsh, remote, yet beautiful setting surrounded by a forest. Cantilevered decks and porches echo the angles of old trees that grow out over the water from the rocky riverbank. The butterfly roof references a huge, cleft boulder on the property that acts as a natural trough for rainwater.
The owners’ desire to enjoy constant, panoramic views of the river resulted in the floorplan’s clear orientation towards the river, the extensive glazing on the river-facing side, and those porches and decks that extend the interior living spaces outdoors.
“At night, the house glows like a lantern in the forest,” Schechter notes in the video she produced for the competition.
For more information on Arielle Condoret Schechter and more details about this award-winning Net Zero house, visit acsarchitect.com.
About the Matsumoto Prize and the 2020 Jury
The Matsumoto Prize focuses on the houses rather than the designers. Therefore, any residential designer — registered architect or not — may submit a modernist house he or she has designed as long as the house is located in North Carolina. For more information: ncmodernist.org/matsumotoprize.
Each year, a carefully selected jury of professionals selects the top three winners for the Jury Awards while a People’s Choice component invites public voting. This year, the jury included architects Toshiko Mori, FAIA, of New York; Barbara Bestor, FAIA, of Los Angeles; Stella Betts, New York; Annabelle Selldorf, FAIA, New York ; Hugh Kaptur, FAIA, Palm Springs, CA; Harry Wolf, FAIA, Los Angeles; and California architect/author/historian Alan Hess.
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.
Arielle Schechter on how Japan Inspires Her Design Philosophy
This architect builds for the North Carolina climate and for clients who crave sustainability.
By Jessica Mordaco
Light is the most important factor in architect Arielle Schechter’s design philosophy. Much of her design inspiration comes from Japanese architects who use screens and overhangs to block the sun while creating a seamless translucence from outdoors to indoors—that, and modernist design that connects inside spaces to nature. Schechter became interested in her craft at a young age, growing up with a famous mid-century architect as a father. “I always thought I’d work for him but, when he died, I had a lot of things I wanted to say in architecture,” she says. “I totally believe there’s no point in designing anything, much less a green building unless you’re going to make it wonderful for the people who live in it, too.”
So she started her firm Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, and she now works tirelessly to change public opinion that architects are scary and expensive to work with.
“I really don’t care how much money I make. I just want to get people to stop buying cookie-cutter, badly built developer houses that don’t have an architect involved because they’re inefficient.”
By Nicole Jewell | Photos by Tzu Chen
Chapel Hill-based firm Arielle Condoret Schechter is known for its commitment to building sustainable homes that don’t sacrifice elegance or comfort. The company’s latest work includes the spacious Haw River House, which was built with several efficient features to create a net-zero energy home that is seamlessly linked with its natural surroundings.
Tucked into a pristine woodland overlooking the Haw River, which runs through central North Carolina, the beautiful Haw River House sits in harmony with the landscape. Using this natural setting as inspiration, the 2,600-square-foot house is outfitted with several energy-efficient features that make it completely energy-neutral. READ MORE
Architecture writer Mike Welton considers a new residential project by Chapel Hill architect Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA. (Photo by Tzu Chen)
For a new home on the Haw River in North Carolina’s Chatham County, architect Arielle Schechter found her inspiration in two places.
One was the river. The other was a rock.
“Walking down by the riverbank, there were so many trees cantilevered and bent out over the river, that I said: ‘I want this house to bend out over the river too,’” she says.
She placed the home on the only available buildable knoll since the 21-acre site slopes steeply down to a flood plain and riparian buffer below.
As for the rock, it actually was a huge granite boulder, split down the center. “It’s super-sculptural with a thin knife-blade through the middle where rainwater flows,” she says. “The idea of bisecting something appealed to me, so I did that with the butterfly roof.”
Then there was the raptor. READ MORE
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).
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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.