The Perfect balance of standing out while blending in
“We strike the perfect balance of standing out while blending in”
Just because the focus of any brewery is self-evidently the beer, a consumable product, doesn’t mean that the story behind the beer must be consequently lost or fleeting at an emptied glass. The stage set for experiencing the beer can engage people beyond taste and carry out the story to make its lasting mark.
The design has a responsibility to honor the story of how the beer was made, the specificity that went into the hand-foraged ingredients and the hyper awareness of the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. This is Placemaking and we begin every project with that design philosophy at the core. Ideally, we like to say we strike the perfect balance of standing out while blending in. It’s a way to sync harmoniously with existing surroundings, while remaining true to the new beginning being created for a particular client. In that blending, that’s where the good stuff lives.
That First Visit - handle with care
Undoubtedly there was a shared reaction we had touring the four small, independent but attached, buildings making up a 9,000 SF lot inside the bounds of industrial Ballard. We all could see that the greatest asset to this property was the incredible character hidden underneath a group of tired, sun-blasted facades. The exterior walls are cloaked over beautiful structure, heavy timber trusses and scarred masonry walls that lay inside and have been, up to this point, primarily kept as secret warehouse space.
For us, it was like stepping back in time and being reminded of Ballard’s history of hard-working blue collar days. The auto body shop flanking the property on either end was where numerous old cars were restored, where hints of grease will soon be overtaken by smells of oak barrels and steaming mash. The center building, with its giant heavy trusses, was recently an old Ballard machine shop where you would go to find obscure parts. This will soon become a buzzing, vibrant tasting room open to all and people will finally look up and see those heavy timber made from trees that you just don’t come by anymore.
The way we describe the design concept of the tasting room is “honest elegance”. In Seattle we need spaces that exude the effects of sunlight because we are usually lacking actual sunlight. That’s what brought us to agree on warmer hues, playing off the existing steel bolts and redish, weathered woods. We like the idea of mixing metals, not adhering strictly to bronze or steel, but mixing a variety in the architectural accents to add richness to the color palette while acknowledging and embracing that patina will occur over time. This is part of the charm and part of aging in a space. One of the buildings is going to be mostly demolished to carve into the site and create a beer garden between 2 of the existing buildings. It was important for us to feel, as a customer, like you aren’t out on the sidewalk, but enclosed and comfortable. This is worth the value in real estate to subtract, rather than add. A notion most would scoff.
These buildings inherently have good bones, so that’s where we will start, exposing the original structure and allowing it to be the focus. Everything we make or add will be more edited and refined, similar to how Fair Isle approaches their brewing. In the end it should look effortless and celebrate what was already in place. The beautiful juxtaposition between these two ideas in opposition is where joy and delight is created. We can’t wait to debut it to future Fair Isle customers who will share the same feelings we did when experiencing the space.
- Heather Pogue
Heather Pogue is the architect for Fair Isle Brewing and owner of Jeunesse Architec