An Idea Turned 90 Degrees

In designing a new addition to one of St. Louis’ most successful craft breweries, JEMA decided to create 2 new buildings instead of adding on to the original structure. One building houses the new tasting venue, kitchen, restrooms and an office on the 2nd floor. The other is a “L-shaped” storage building that surrounds the tasting venue structure.

The new tasting venue building is clad in stone with heavy timber lintels. The storage building is clad in brick.

We located the front entry door off of the main street, but the client reviewed the whole design and said “flip it….turn everything 90 degrees”.

“That means the entrance to the new building is in the back”, we responded.

“Yes, that’s right…flip it!”.

We left the meeting quite stunned. Putting the main entry in the back facing the storage building sounded, to put it mildly, unconventional. But, the more we looked at it and the more research we did, the more we came to understand the idea.

So why turn the building 90 degrees? Why locate the main entry in the back?

First, precedent: in researching English pubs and taverns located throughout Great Britain, we found the most sought after and popular pubs had “rear entries”. Their entries were off of side alleys, or back courtyards. Discovering the entry is part of the charm and lure of these establishments.

The other reason, personality. The client brought a great sense of originality and an understanding of how to differentiate his brewery from all of his competitors. Locating the entry in the rear creates a sense of mystery, privacy and anticipation as one approaches the site. The eccentricity of the client made its way into the architecture by taking a conventional idea and turning it 90 degrees…creating a true original.

The main entry of the new tasting venue building is in the back creating a sense of mystery and anticpation as one approaches the site.

Side alley entrance to a pub in England.

From the street, the view is of the storage building and the tasting venue building, but not the entry. The glow in the back is the entry courtyard which is accessed by a path between the new and existing buildings.

Another back alley entry to a pub in England.