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Charles Smith Wines Tasting Room & World Headquarters

A converted old auto-repair warehouse – Charles Smith Wines rock ‘n’ roll renovation

Charles Smith Wines Tasting Room and World Headquarters , by Olson Kundig Architects (Walla Walla, Wash.): Olson Kundig took a 1917 Johnson Auto Electric building and outfitted it with a tasting room, offices, and retail store, including flexible spaces, such as a large unit that the firm calls the “armadillo.”

Charles-Smith-Wines-Tasting-Room-World-Headquarters-By-Olson-Kundig-Architects-32-Benjamin-Benschneider-759x506 Charles Smith Wines Tasting Room & World Headquarters / Olson Kundig Architects

© Benjamin Benschneider

The Charles Smith Wines project in Walla Walla is an exciting adaptive reuse project that transformed the former Johnson Auto Electric Building (1917) into a highly flexible wine tasting venue and office space. The project features Olson Kundig’s trademark movable panels, with two custom hand-cranked pivot doors that completely open the interior space to the outside forming an awning for outdoor seating. There is also the aforementioned ‘Armadillo’, a large prefabricated unit that enables the raw space within to transform from an office, tasting room and retail shop into a dining room and entertainment venue. Tasting tables that dock together to form a dining table and a sliding panel that turns into a video screen also add to the flavour of this exquisite venue.

Charles-Smith-Wines-Tasting-Room-World-Headquarters-By-Olson-Kundig-Architects-05-Benjamin-Benschneider-885x1200 Charles Smith Wines Tasting Room & World Headquarters / Olson Kundig Architects

© Benjamin Benschneider

This project occupies the former Johnson Auto Electric building, built in 1917. The design team was inspired by Charles Smith’s in-your-face attitude to create a raw space for offices and a tasting room that highlights the original aesthetic 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. The design team collaborated with fabricators to design the structure as well as the custom furniture. Pieces were fabricated off site and quickly assembled within the building, cutting down on construction time.

Charles-Smith-Wines-Tasting-Room-World-Headquarters-By-Olson-Kundig-Architects-10-Benjamin-Benschneider-759x569 Charles Smith Wines Tasting Room & World Headquarters / Olson Kundig Architects

© Benjamin Benschneider

Former-band-manager-turned-winemaker Charles Smith wanted a tasting room and office space that matched his rock-and-roll style. The conversion of an auto-electric building retained its gritty aesthetic and resulted in a highly flexible space that can be transformed from a tasting room to a drive-through.

Charles-Smith-Wines-Tasting-Room-World-Headquarters-By-Olson-Kundig-Architects-11-Benjamin-Benschneider-759x505 Charles Smith Wines Tasting Room & World Headquarters / Olson Kundig Architects

© Benjamin Benschneider

“This minimalist intervention into a modest urban warehouse space results in a dynamic and beautifully detailed project. A great solution for a simple space reflecting an attitude of restraint and editing, the project is gritty and urban and integrates the exterior with the interior for a sort of “rough luxe” aesthetic. Its planning is simple and clever with operable panels and mobile platforms that engage its users with the architecture. This project represents all of the fun things about architecture.” – Jury Comments / AIA Awards

Charles-Smith-Wines-Tasting-Room-World-Headquarters-By-Olson-Kundig-Architects-17-William-Hanley-759x505 Charles Smith Wines Tasting Room & World Headquarters / Olson Kundig Architects

© William Hanley

Design Features:

Open Office Steel panels slide to adjust the visibility of a workspace from a public tasting room and to regulate the amount of daylight coming in from existing skylights in the former garage’s roof.

Charles-Smith-Wines-Tasting-Room-World-Headquarters-By-Olson-Kundig-Architects-09-Benjamin-Benschneider Charles Smith Wines Tasting Room & World Headquarters / Olson Kundig Architects

© Benjamin Benschneider

Garage doors swing open and closed with a custom-designed system of cranks, gears, and chains. The gadget echoes devices that Kundig has created for other projects. Here, the contraption turns a prosaic function into a head-turning detail, adding to the space’s sidewalk presence.

Charles-Smith-Wines-Tasting-Room-World-Headquarters-By-Olson-Kundig-Architects-25-759x401 Charles Smith Wines Tasting Room & World Headquarters / Olson Kundig Architects

© Olson Kundig Architects

Olson Kundig Architects:

Charles Smith Wines is located in downtown Walla Walla in the former Johnson Auto Electric building, constructed in 1917. Winemaker Charles Smith approached our firm to design a new tasting room and office space that would match his rock and roll style. The design team 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.

Charles-Smith-Wines-Tasting-Room-World-Headquarters-By-Olson-Kundig-Architects-28-Benjamin-Benschneider-800x1200 Charles Smith Wines Tasting Room & World Headquarters / Olson Kundig Architects

© Benjamin Benschneider

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.

Charles-Smith-Wines-Tasting-Room-World-Headquarters-By-Olson-Kundig-Architects-29-Benjamin-Benschneider-759x506 Charles Smith Wines Tasting Room & World Headquarters / Olson Kundig Architects

© Benjamin Benschneider

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.

Charles-Smith-Wines-Tasting-Room-World-Headquarters-By-Olson-Kundig-Architects-31-Benjamin-Benschneider-800x1200 Charles Smith Wines Tasting Room & World Headquarters / Olson Kundig Architects

© Benjamin Benschneider

The armadillo contains a conference room and workspaces for 14 people. 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 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.

Charles-Smith-Wines-Tasting-Room-World-Headquarters-By-Olson-Kundig-Architects-33-Benjamin-Benschneider-759x448 Charles Smith Wines Tasting Room & World Headquarters / Olson Kundig Architects

© Benjamin Benschneider

Project Data

Project name: Charles Smith Wines Tasting Room & World Headquarters
Location: 35 South Spokane Street, Walla Walla, Washington, United States
Coordinates: 46.068173,-118.334912
Type: Adaptive Reuse, Restaurant / Coffee shop / Cafe, Lounge / Bar / Restaurant / Night Clubs
Specific Use of Building: Wines Tasting Room & World Headquarters
Structural system:

  • Existing structure – Perimeter brick walls with wood and steel framed roof trusses, concrete slab flooring.
  • New structure – Engineered lumber and glu-lam framing.

Project Area: 5,000 sq.ft
Project Year: 2011
Construction Period: 6 months
Status: Completed
Completion Year: 2011
Visit Charles Smith Wines’s website: here

Awards:

  • 2013 – The American Institute of Architect (AIA Awards) – Category: National Interior Architecture – The best in sustainability – Honor Awards
  • 2013 – Architizer A+ Awards – Popular Choice Awards – Category: Retail – Special Mention
  • 2012 – International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Awards – People’s Choice Awards – Northern Pacific Chapter INawards
  • 2012 – International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Awards – People’s Choice Awards – Winner
  • 2012 – The American Institute of Architect (AIA Awards) – AIA Seattle Awards – Honor Awards

The people

Client / Owner / Developer: Charles Smith Wines
Architects: Olson Kundig Architects – 159 South Jackson St., Suite 600, Seattle, WA 98104, United States
Design Principal: Tom Kundig
Principal in Charge: Les Eerkes
Project Architect: Chris Gerrick
Interior designer: Olson Kundig Architects and Client
Contractor: Schuchart Corporation
Fabricator: Spearhead
Gizmo Engineer: Turner Exhibits
Structural Engineer: KL&A Structural Engineers and Maury Fortney
Lighting: Olson Kundig Architects
Text Description: © Olson Kundig Architects, AIA Awards
Images: © Olson Kundig Architects, Benjamin Benschneider, William Hanley

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Charles Smith Wines Tasting Room & World Headquarters / Olson Kundig Architects
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