Woodinville Whiskey, a dream turned reality by founders Orlin Sorensen and Brett Carlile, has found a second home nearly three hours east of Seattle in Quincy, Washington. The craft whiskey distillery, which was founded in 2010, currently has primary residence in Woodinville, a city just northeast of Seattle and part of the greater metropolitan area. With the help of a project team led by Seattle-based architecture firm Graham Baba Architects, the dream is now expanding with a multiphase plan that includes a processing and bottling building and multiple barrel rickhouses for aging.
“It’s a different type of project than we work on a lot, the industrial nature of it,” said Andy Brown, design and project architect at Graham Baba. “There was a lot of complexity and a lot of things that were behind the scenes that you don’t necessarily see in the architecture, but in the end, it was a pretty rewarding project for us. [It was] great partnering with Woodinville Whiskey because they really just committed to the vision. It’s always nice to work with clients like that.”
This is not the first time Graham Baba has worked with Woodinville Whiskey on a project. Previously, Graham Baba partnered with developers on the original Woodinville site where the distillery is headquartered, with Woodinville Whiskey in mind as the primary tenant. When Woodinville Whiskey was acquired by Moët Hennessy USA in 2017, formally joining the LVMH family, the need grew for expanded facilities.
“It’s a big international luxury goods brand and we were excited that there was a lot of momentum,” Brown said. “This is just an important project for them and for the bigger brand.”
Graham Baba Architects is the architect of record for the project, led by co-founder Brett Baba, design and project manager Susan Tillack, and Brown. Washington-based firm AHBL provided landscape architecture services, JSL Engineering served as civil and structural engineer and Rimmer & Roeter acted as contractor.
The new facilities are located on 10 acres of land in Quincy that originally belonged to the Omlin Family Farm, which exclusively grows the grain for Woodinville Whiskey. The client, Woodinville Whiskey and LVMH, were excited to see how the project team could design and incorporate such elements of the Woodinville Whiskey brand in the expansion.
“They really trusted us from the beginning,” Brown said. “Their building in Woodinville has become such an important part of their brand, like an illustration of that building is on their label for bottled whiskey they sell, and so that building has become very important to them. There was a lot of trust pretty early on in the conceptual design phase as we were looking at options for Quincy… The parent company LVMH was also very excited about what we were able to bring to what would otherwise be fairly industrial buildings.”
Brown mentioned that this is something in which Brett Baba, partner in charge, has been interested for a long time.
“How can you take these somewhat generic, often not particularly interesting prefabricated metal buildings and through some small, subtle but important design codes, make them into interesting architecture?” Brown said.
The buildings, which range from 40 to 70 feet wide and 400 feet long, are clad in dark metal siding and Kebony wood, and leverage the cost-effectiveness of prefabricated metal buildings with the deep brown tones of bourbon. Kebony wood is a processed wood product with high durability, which Brown said is important for an industrial site such as this, and invokes the warmth of the Woodinville Whiskey label. The team also incorporated wood and rusted steel elements at the front door and loading bays, as well as Corten-clad sliding barn doors on the barrel rickhouses.
“The original distillery building certainly took a lot of cues from agrarian architectural styles,” Brown said. “The Woodinville Whiskey building was wood frame, had a lot of wood involved in the exterior and interior of the building. These buildings in Quincy, we knew we were going to prefab metal buildings. But we still wanted to bring some of those ties in… those elements warm it up but also are reminiscent of those deep red brown tones that you get with bourbon, which we thought was nice to offset the fairly dark standing seam metal that picks up the bulk of the exterior of the buildings.”
Some elements of the Woodinville distillery that were demolished to create more distilling space have been repurposed and incorporated into the design of the Quincy expansion. The team salvaged a mezzanine featuring Douglas fir stairs and steel railings, originally designed by Graham Baba, and once they found out there was space for a mezzanine in the expansion, they knew they had to reuse the materials. Not only was reusing more cost effective, but Brown also said it was a nicer alternative than using stock materials that still would have been more expensive.
“We do a lot of adaptive reuse projects where we’re taking old buildings, doing new things with them,” Brown said. “We’re always thinking about how we can salvage things and repurpose and reuse.”
The steel stringer for the stair also features more than 100 written signatures from an anniversary celebration by early supporters of the Woodinville Whiskey brand, another reason for the team to reuse it in the Quincy expansion.
The entry of the process building is covered by a canopy that is designed to “peel away” from the building, revealing a Corten-clad inner core and an off-center pivot door. Brown emphasized this feature as one of the team’s prouder accomplishments during the design.
“It’s cool expressing the interior of the building on the exterior,” Brown said. “It’s an interesting design and something you don’t see with these prefab steel buildings all that often… The standing seam siding that is the roof and then becomes the siding and just kind of turns the corner and comes down the building, it looks very simple and it’s a very tricky detail to pull off. So that we’re proud of. We had to work for a long time to make it happen.”
The process area of the building easily transitions to corporate offices with the aid of a long, vertical window that forms a skylight from wall to ceiling. The landscape and farmstead can be seen from horizontal windows located on the north wall of the process area, rooftop skylights filter natural daylight into the space and south-facing photovoltaic panels create a source of renewable electricity.
Graham Baba worked closely with contractor Rimmer & Roeter from early in the process to move the project forward through design development and permitting, and together they looked at areas where costs could be saved. The barrel rickhouses feature shallow gabled roofs, rectilinear forms and double hung windows that replicate traditional ricking houses. Originally the buildings were designed symmetrically so that both exterior ends of each building looked the same as they would look from the street. The team revised the design, however, so that the back of the buildings only feature standing seam metal and a garage door, while the front incorporates the wood siding and exposed steel elements of the rest of the design.
“We put in some more detail and a variety of materials,” Brown said, “and we put the effort into those moments that were a little closer to where the public interacted.”
The project, on which the team has formally been working since the master plan was formed in 2018, is still in the mid-stages of expansion. The process building and first rickhouse have been completed, according to Brown, and the second rickhouse is close to completion.
“It was a relatively complicated design process,” Brown said. “We did the first barrel storage building and the process building kind of at the same time, and as we were doing the updates to the distillery building, things had to happen in a very specific order so that there weren’t big delays in their production… all these pieces have to fit together.”
The team has submitted permit applications for the fourth rickhouse, which they’re aiming to start building in summer 2022, with a fifth to come. Future developments may also include a whiskey tasting room at the west end of the process building.