As architects, we get to make contributions to community. Sometimes these contributions are significant and sometimes they are small, but hopefully all of our structures add to people’s lives in a positive way. The projects that stand out most in our hearts are the ones that give us the opportunity to rebuild, rethink the way we build and improve the communities we build for. We call them passion projects.
Preserving a Community Gem
Refurbished Facility & Storefront
It all began when we were approached by two brothers who wanted to start a distillery business and needed us to design and construct a facility in the Old 4th Ward neighborhood of Atlanta. Sitting in a turn-of-the-century brick building on Glenwood Avenue, just blocks from Ebenezer Baptist Church, this was to be the first distillery in Atlanta since prohibition. We jumped at the chance to help revitalize this historic neighborhood—and take on a project unlike any other.
First, we had to learn how alcohol is made, from fermentation to final pour. This meant learning about all of the equipment and infrastructure needed, including how to install complex water lines, heaters, stills, cleaning devices and ventilation. The space needed to be both beautiful and functional, with a backend facility and a front-end tasting room.
Another interesting challenge was the task of replicating the original space. Through hours of research and time spent looking at old photos and floorplans, we were able to reproduce much of the original colors and refurbish materials from the existing façade and brick walls. An authentic style to fit in with a neighborhood that knows the true value of history and the beauty of preservation.
For a space that has seen many disparate shapes and functions over the years, this was a fun and unique opportunity for our team. We got to learn first hand about the distillation process and what it takes to build a modern day facility, while replicating the look and feel of an old building. In the end, we also were able to make our mark on a community rich with history.