When a craftsman makes beer, they work in a brewery. We’ve already designed a great one of those. When they create mead, they do it in a Meadery. We’re excited that our latest project Wild Blossom Meadery has just received its building permit.
What is Mead?
Mead is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey with yeast; it can be dry like Riesling or sweet like a dessert wine. Mead is not a beer, wine, or spirit in the normal sense; it is its own class of alcohol, and it is believed to be the oldest alcoholic beverage. Mead has held a pivotal place in many cultures throughout its nearly 8,000 year history, and it is still enjoyed throughout the world. (Thanks, Wild Blossom website)!
Starting from the Honeycomb
European honey bees and native bees are the most important pollinators of insect-pollinated crops in the US . By creating and enhancing bee habitats, which is what Wild Blossom has accomplished, bees can fulfill their three basic habitat needs. Those needs consist of a constant supply of food – the rooftop habitat is a bee-buffet; a place to nest and protection from deadly pesticides.
Our design centered on making bee friendly decisions. There are hives and a thriving bee habitat behind the building, and the design increases bee-accessible space by adding a green roof (the bees don’t need a staircase to get up there).
Our initial design research focused on the basic building blocks. Mead is made from honey which is produced by bees. So when you check out our Pinterst page for the project, you’ll see a lot of honeycomb related concepts. Knowing there would be habitat (and hives) on the project site, we wanted to make sure we conveyed that unique quality of the mead production process throughout the design.
Getting into the Wild Blossom Design
The existing building is a former warehouse located just off the Rock Island Metra line by the Dan Ryan Woods. The triangular site has a lot of potential and we wanted to preserve as much of the existing building as possible for two reasons – cost and minimizing waste.
We searched for the best way to improve the building dramatically without altering it comprehensively. Demolishing a lower quality recent addition, and also slicing a corridor through the main body of the warehouse, will bring a lot more light and air into the space without starting from scratch.
The red sketch below shows one idea of the checkout counter. Since technology today allows for a very minimal Point of Sale equipment, we can keep the check out simple – a nice venue for the logo and opportunity to show off the hex-shaped honeycomb design with a few drawers for securing essential technology.
We paid particular attention to the Tasting Area which opens on to the wider retail space. The project aesthetic called for utilitarian but interesting details. We proposed a concrete bar top – super easy to clean and hard to damage – surrounded by a charred wood wall and ceiling surface that would extend the perspective lines on the space and help connect it to the taller adjacent retail space.
Note: Charring the staves of wine barrels is one part of the process of making preparing casks for aging wine. We thought the idea would also make for an interesting interior wall material in the tasting area. Below the bar the honeycomb inspired hexagonal pattern appears again!
To explore all the various roof line options for this project, we ended up making a scale model. It gives a clear impression of how we wanted to set up the new (higher angled roof) versus the existing flat roofed building.
We enjoy looking at the model which lives in our office and, but it will be nice to see it in real life soon!