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Craft Brewery

Butterfly roofs identify communal spaces and reinforce an image of a highly skilled, craft brewer

New Belgium Brewing July18 23
Photo: Mark Herboth Photography

New Belgium Brewing’s brewery in Asheville, N.C., is a large complex that includes manufacturing space, offices, bottling and warehouse facilities, and spaces open to the public. A taproom outbuilding and the public entrance to the brewery feature butterfly roofs that identify the communal spaces and reinforce the company’s image as a highly skilled, craft brewer.

Kevin Turner, AIA, LEED AP, practice principal at Perkins+Will’s office in Charlotte, N.C., says there are three primary reasons the two butterfly roofs were chosen. First, they are highly visual cues where there are spaces open to the public on the vast, 17.5-acre site. Second, the craftsmanship required to build butterfly roofs reflects the owner’s branding as a brewer committed to craftsmanship. Third, the roofs create dramatic interior spaces.

Butterfly Beacons

For the identification piece, the butterfly roof on the main, 153,716-square-foot production building covers the portion of what New Belgium Brewing calls its Brew House. This is where brewery tours begin and visitors to the additional 9,037 square feet of office space enter the facility. The majority of the production building is covered by a flat, thermoplastic polyolefin roof.

“The Brew House is really a special node that interfaces with the public,” Turner says. “We wanted it to stand out from the rest of the project in that sense,” Turner says. “Therefore, the roof line needed to stand out from the rest of the building.”

The butterfly roof is repeated on the taproom, a 8,520-square-foot outbuilding called the Liquid Center that is open to the public as well. “Using the butterfly roof in both places ties the two together and allows a clear awareness that these are public spaces; this is where the public can interface with the brewing,” Turner says.

Communicating Craft

Regarding craftsmanship, New Belgium Brewing differentiates itself from larger producers by emphasizing the skills, processes and ingredients needed to brew beer in smaller quantities.

“Because it’s fundamental to their culture, they wanted the architecture of their space to express the idea of craft through and through,” Turner says. “The whole purpose, regardless of scale, is for the beer to be crafted, not just cranked out. The architecture needed to express how important craft is, even at this larger scale.”

The butterfly roofs exemplify the idea of craft in that they are more difficult to build correctly than a typical pitched roof. Turner says, “There’s a lot less margin for error; you have to design it and build it correctly or it’ll leak.”

The butterfly roofs are exposed on the exteriors and interiors, drawing attention to the process of their construction. Steel pipe columns and wide flange beams support the roofs and create porch spaces.

“You see the expression of the steel beams, wood rafters running across and metal trimming of the edge,” Turner says. “Nothing was hidden or covered or made to feel it was in any way polished.”

The exposed roofs required more effort and skill to build than more traditionally finished roofs, Turner says. “In fact, it’s harder because it requires a higher level of craftsmanship. That’s exactly what they were after, expressing the way the building was built.”

Dramatic Spaces

From an aesthetics standpoint, the exposed butterfly roofs create dramatic interior spaces in the Brew House and Liquid Center. “Once the decision was made to expose the structure of the roof inside, the butterfly roof is a far more dramatic way to do that than a traditionally pitched roof would be,” Turner says. “It makes for a much more inspirational and exciting space.”

Outside, the porch spaces signal entry to visitors, Turner says. “The roof extends out beyond the building and is picked up by a set of columns, which creates shade and protection from the rain, and provides a welcoming porch for those gathered for tours.”

Photo: Mark Herboth Photography

Metal Reinforcement

Metal played key roles throughout the project. In addition to the metal butterfly roofs, structurally, the brewery is primarily steel framed. There is a metal sawtooth roof over a bottling plant and metal staircase that separates the Brew House and office area. Metal panels from stockyard buildings on the original site are repurposed in accent applications along the tour route, in the office area, taproom and other locations.

“At an industrial level, metal is fundamental to the making of good beer,” Turner says. “As a result, metal in its many forms is abundant in the facility. We used it as a sculptural element to play off of and contrast to the industrial background. In each case, the use of metal reinforced the design.”

For the butterfly roofs, Kernersville, N.C.-based AAR Roofing and Sheet Metal Co. installed Bossier City, La.-based McElroy Metal’s 16-inch-wide, 24-gauge Medallion-Lok metal roof panels in Silver Metallic. For soffits, the company installed McElroy Metal’s 12-inch-wide, 24-gauge Marquee-Lok metal soffit panels in Silver Metallic. To complete the installation, AAR Roofing and Sheet Metal formed trims on the job site with sheets of McElroy Metal’s 24-gauge flat sheet in Metallic Silver.

Staircase and Light Shelves

The metal staircase is between the Brew House and office space, where it creates a smooth connection between the two areas and contrasts with reclaimed wood cladding on the office portion.

“In this case, the metal is used as a neutral contrast to the warmth of the wood and strength of the concrete,” Turner says. “The flexibility of metal as a building material allowed us to emphasize the shape and nature of the staircase, which is a crucial link from the wood-clad, simple form of the office bar to the wood, glass and sweeping butterfly roof that denotes the Brew House.”

The metal staircase also divides the side of the structure into smaller segments. “This building needed to be visually broken down,” Turner says. “It’s actually a very large footprint building, but from the side of the site, it doesn’t feel that massive. By using the stairs to separate the two, it allows them to really feel like two separate buildings. It’s connecting the two, but it’s also separating the two; it’s serving both purposes. It’s creating a junction that allows the two to function independently, but still make sense.”

In another example, metal was used for horizontal panels at the windows on the Liquid Center. The aluminum panels act as sunshades for windows below and light shelves for Manchester, N.H.-based Kalwall Corp.’s translucent panels above.

“The translucent panels both insulate the space and bring in a lot of diffused daylight,” Turner says. “Light comes in and kind of bounces around the space. It really lights it up beautifully, and these light shelves help reflect the light up into the panels instead of directing it straight into the windows where people’s faces are.”

Environmental Impact

Another organizing theme of the project was consideration for environmental impacts. Significant remedial work was completed to prepare the site for development. The complex is on two land parcels on the French Broad River. The north parcel is in a flood plain and the south parcel is a former brownfield that was occupied by cattle stockyards. The parcels are bisected by a restored stream running east/west. New Belgium Brewing worked with the City of Asheville on several aspects including the stream and constructing a bicycle path along the riverside.

Environmentally conscious elements also include stormwater management, LED lighting, high-efficiency HVAC equipment and solar-heated hot water. At the Liquid Center, a photovoltaic array is attached to the roof and radiant floors are installed.

The main production facility received two LEED certifications: LEED Gold for the brewery portion and LEED Silver for the distribution center portion, which had a different project team. The Liquid Center attained LEED Platinum.

In a statement from New Belgium Brewing, Jay Richardson, general manager of the East Coast facility, says, “Building with environmental health in mind aligns with our values as a company, so it was an early and quick decision to do the work to [LEED] certify the buildings. Healthy work environments with natural lighting and ventilation, and support for active lifestyles, keep our coworkers happy and healthy.”