Article source: Olson Kundig Architects
Winemaker Charles Smith approached our firm to design a new tasting room and office space that would match his rock and roll style. His approach to wine is captured by his trademark phrase: “It’s just booze – drink it!” The design team, led by Tom Kundig, was inspired by Charles’s in-your-face attitude to create a raw space that highlights the original aesthetics of the building while inserting highly flexible pieces, including a large unit dubbed the Armadillo. The resulting space can transform from an office, tasting room and retail store into a dining and entertainment venue.
- Architects: Olson Kundig Architects
- Project: Charles Smith Wines Tasting Room & World Headquarters
- Location: Walla Walla, Washington
- Project Team: Tom Kundig, FAIA, design principal; Les Eerkes, AIA, project manager; Chris Gerrick, LEED AP, project architect
- Contractor: Schuchart Corporation
- Consultants: Spearhead (fabricator); Turner Exhibits (gizmo engineer); KL&A Structural Engineers (structural engineer)
- Completed: 2011
- Size: 5,000 SF
- Software used: Revit and Photoshop
Charles Smith Wines is located in downtown Walla Walla in the former Johnson Auto Electric building, constructed in 1917. The shell of the building—with original brick walls, wood trusses and a concrete floor—received minor structural updates but was otherwise left raw. The team highlighted the automotive history of the building by replacing garage doors with two custom, hand-cranked pivot doors that completely open the space to the street and form an awning for outdoor seating.
The concept of the drive-thru was important in the development of the design. Elements of the design, like the prefabricated Armadillo are “parked” within the space; other elements transform as needed, including floating “rafts” that serve as a seating area/stage, tasting tables that dock together to form a dining table, and a sliding panel that can function as a video screen. Vehicles—including delivery vans or taco trucks for catering—can literally drive through the space.
The Armadillo is a 70 foot long shell, measuring 12 feet high by 20 feet wide. It contains a conference room and workspaces for 14 people, including a semi-enclosed office space for Charles Smith and an enclosed space for accounting. L-shaped steel panels slide along the side and top of the structure, alternately opening it up to views of the tasting room and natural light from above or shutting it down for security and privacy. The panels also serve as a backdrop for Charles Smith Wines’ strong graphics, and are lined with cork in the inside, serving as an impromptu pin-up area. The design team collaborated with fabricators from Spearhead to design the structure as well as the custom furniture within it. Pieces were fabricated offsite and quickly assembled within the building, cutting down on construction time.
2013 AIA National Honor Award for Interior Architecture
2012 AIA Seattle Honor Award
2012 IIDA Northern Pacific Chapter INaward, People’s Choice
2012 Washington Main Street Program Awards, Outstanding Design or Rehabilitation Project Award