Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

A vision conceived more than a decade ago is coming to fruition as Joseph & Joseph Architects, in partnership with Beam Suntory and the University of Kentucky, announces the completion of the new James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits Still Building and Independent Stave Company Boswell Family Barrel Warehouse. A grand opening ceremony will be held on Monday, August 7, 2023, marking a significant milestone in bourbon education and showcasing Joseph & Joseph’s commitment to fostering industry innovation and excellence through strategic public-private partnerships.

Parlaying off their recent experience completing the Fred B. Noe Distillery – a companion research facility on the Jim Beam campus in Clermont, KY, Joseph & Joseph Architects played a pivotal role in the conceptualization, design, and construction of the James B. Beam Institute project. Their expertise and core understanding of the Institute’s mission facilitated the buildings’ seamless integration into UK’s campus and helped position the facility as the world’s largest teaching distillery upon completion.

Spanning 7,400 square feet, the James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits Still Building – also known as the distillery, features a 30-foot-high, state-of-the-art 12” column still system. Housing pragmatic educational spaces including an open distillery room, TEAL (Technology Enhanced Active Learning) classroom and laboratory – complete with a fume hood, the new facility also incorporates administrative offices, a conference room and various production-level support spaces. The entire distillation process – from cooking and fermentation to barrel filling – happens within a single open space, allowing students to visualize and engage with bourbon production holistically. This new education model fosters experiential learning and provides unparalleled educational insights in a time-honored craft.

The 2,800 square-foot Independent Stave Company Boswell Family Barrel Warehouse, also called the rickhouse, revolutionizes the barrel maturation process. It incorporates the maiden installation of a shop-fabricated, glulam KRAX system by Koetter Construction, which provides a storage capacity of approximately 660 barrels. This architectural marvel, adorned with real limestone and sleek black metal panels, pays homage to the storied history of bourbon while also embodying the academic innovation happening within.

Joseph & Joseph designed the exterior of the new distillery and rickhouse to fuse regional vernacular and programmatic functions harmoniously. The rickhouse – a simple black metal shed roof bookended by elegant stair towers wrapped in limestone, stands proudly as a testament to craftsmanship and tradition. Incorporating the same material palette, the distillery building boasts a combination of single-story stretches housing operational and support spaces in tandem with grander height sections where distillation processes occur.

Another primary project objective was to establish a strong and distinguishable architectural aesthetic for UK’s College of Agriculture buildings, as well as the south campus in general. Tightly woven into a site surrounded by the existing Cooper House and Barnhart Building, the Joseph & Joseph Team created a courtyard system by slightly rotating the new distillery and rickhouse buildings. This enhances visual connectivity while creating a sense of place, facilitating physical accessibility, and establishing efficient pedestrian circulation between existing and new structures.

To increase project awareness and exposure, Joseph & Joseph lead tours for both UK College of Design and Beam Institute students throughout various phases of construction. However, the impact of these facilities extends far beyond the confines of campus. By providing students with unparalleled educational opportunities and hands-on experience, the James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits will shape the bourbon industry’s future leaders, master distillers, and champions.

While the opening of the James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits Still Building and Independent Stave Company Boswell Family Barrel Warehouse shines a spotlight on Joseph & Joseph Architects, the University of Kentucky, Beam Suntory, and countless other stakeholders, it also illuminates the limitless possibilities within the bourbon industry. Standing as a testament to craftsmanship, innovation, and the power of collaboration, this landmark public-private partnership model and prototypical facilities will undoubtedly serve as a blueprint for fostering industry advancements and sustaining Kentucky’s position at the forefront of the global bourbon stage.

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