Bourbon might be hundreds of years old, but America’s original spirit is looking younger with age. Taking cues from local craft and the surrounding landscape, Louisville-based De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop has designed a new $4 million visitors center for the Wild Turkey distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Situated atop a bluff overlooking the meandering Kentucky River, the visitors center’s simple barn form is first seen through an entry sequence that gradually reveals the complexity of the project’s detailing.
The facade and roof is wrapped with stained cedar siding arranged in a chevron pattern, creating a rich texture against the building’s simple form. “The design concept is inspired by local building, material, and craft precedents specific to the region and the Wild Turkey Bourbon brand,” the architects said of the project in a statement. “By alluding to these conceptual precedents in an abstract manner, the visitors center design presents a building that is simultaneously familiar and new—bridging tradition and modernity.”
At the eastern end of the visitors center, the cedar panels are pulled apart to expose the interior and serve as a sunscreen for event spaces and tasting rooms. At night, the porous quality of the latticework allows it to glow like a lantern in the heavily forested area.
Inside, a palette of contrasting dark and light colors and textures familiar in the bourbon-making process combine with sleek new materials to reinforce the combination of old and new. Reclaimed barn-wood panels of stained and charred oak—recalling the inside of a bourbon barrel—line the reception area contrasted by a bridge-like structure reminiscent of the sturdy racks found inside nearby bourbon warehouses. Ramps crisscross the building, providing for flexible exhibition space and creating moments of drama as visitors move through a grand double-height multipurpose room up to a private tasting room with panoramic views of the river.
The 9,500 square foot project is expected to be complete by the fall of 2013.