Yale Students to Plan Urban Distillery in Louisville

by Gabe Bullard on January 24, 2012

A group of students from the Yale School of Architecture will visit Louisville this year to design an urban distillery downtown, though the project won’t necessarily result in the distillery being built.

The visit is part of Yale’s advanced design studios program. In addition to Kentucky, students in other studios will visit Venice, Denmark, Finland, Los Angeles and Switzerland. The latter trip will be led by Frank Gehry.

The Louisville team will be led by Deborah Berke, who was one of the lead designers of 21c. The students will visit various distilleries in the area, as well as in Columbus, Indiana, Cincinnati and New York. They will then design an urban distillery on the block across from Whiskey Row.

According to a statement announcing the project, the students will look for innovation through architecture in the spirits industry and offer “an opportunity to rethink urban manufacturing in the 21st Century.”

From the course outline:

We will study the logistics of material handling, the overlapping paths of goods, workers, visitors, waste, and traffic within the distillery and the city. We will confront the demands of energy consumption, water-use, hygiene, and the pungent odors for which distilleries are infamous. Students will be asked to consider the performative requirements for the architectural envelope in regards to scale, day-light, energy-use, interior climate, brand-identity, and transparency.

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This studio project—the design of an urban distillery—takes place within the context of a growing demand for locally-grown, sustainable agriculture, and the emergence of a market for artisanal premium food products, including small-batch bourbons. We will design a 60,000sf facility that will include spaces of production and storage, a testing and training lab, offices, loading and packaging areas, and a public component to support tours, exhibitions, and events. The studio’s design process will begin with an analysis of the various processes and techniques of bourbon production (i.e. grain storage and milling, barrel making and charring, mash cooking, fermentation, distilling, and ageing), a sketch problem that explores the container and its relationship to material and scale, followed by the design of the distillery and its site. The studio will work primarily in section and model.

A local spokesman for the project says the distillery will only be a schematic and will not necessarily be built.

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