Wild Turkey Bourbon Visitor Center
This 9,140-square-foot structure welcomes visitors to the 400-acre Wild Turkey Distillery. Designed by Louisville-based De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop, the building riffs on the iconic peaked-roof building form. Sited to minimize heat gain through the stained cedar rainscreen cladding, as well as to preserve the natural habitat of a population of, appropriately, wild turkeys, the building sits on a bluff overlooking the Kentucky River.
Perched high on a hill 275 feet above the Kentucky River sits a shining beacon for the iconic Wild Turkey Distillery® – a new, 9,140- square-foot, state-of-the-art Visitor Center. Officially open to the whiskey-drinking public today, the award-winning structure stands as an architectural feat in this small pocket of Bourbon country and caps off a more than $100 million investment by Gruppo Campari to thoroughly modernize and expand the distillery experience.
“Quite a lovely yet simple building, evocative of the regional vernacular. The siting is extraordinary, and at night, the building is lit up like a lantern on the hill, visible from near and far. The exterior siding has a nicely articulated pattern that extends up to and covers the roof. Every detail is well executed. The interior has a cathedral-like quality, with a beautifully detailed narrow hallway that opens into the tasting rooms, fully glazed, with a view of the hills and valley. It’s a very honest, straightforward building.” – AIA Institute Honor Awards/Jury Comments
“The building is a clever and truly beautiful reinterpretation of a vernacular archetype – a wonderful project on all levels. The wood cladding almost dematerializes as it transforms into a filigree of slats, imbuing the building with an unexpected lightness. The siting of the building takes great advantage of the site, positioning the building as a self-confident addition to the existing compound of production facilities and opening itself up to great views overlooking the river. The interior ramp is masterful, a well-detailed spatial device that organizes the interior program and turns a visit to the upper-level tasting room into a grand procession through the two-story space.” – AIA Kentucky Award/Jury Comments
The new visitor center for Wild Turkey Distilleries is a combination of custom structural steel, wood framing, wood trusses, and window wall systems. This two story facility overlooks the Kentucky River and will be a focal point for visitors at Wild Turkey.
The surrounding landscaping relies on local wild grasses, which require no irrigation and provide a food source for the birds. Beneath the peaked roof, the building contains exhibit and event space on the first floor and a tasting room on the second, which features a floating cork floor and a repurposed copper bourbon still. Douglas fir lattices, ash wall panels, and a pine ceiling bring warm tones to the interior, and provide a juxtaposition to the dark-stained exterior.
With stunning views that inspire and delight, the structure features a mélange of natural wood materials, including Rough-cut Ash, Cypress, Douglas Fir, Yellow Pine and American White Oak, that seamlessly blends into its environment. As a clever nod to the brand’s beloved turkey icon, the exterior wood siding pattern was inspired by the display plumage of a wild turkey, while the vegetation surrounding the building is part of a wild turkey’s natural habitat. Massive glass windows peer down on the majestic Kentucky River, giving visitors a chance to drink in the Commonwealth’s spectacular beauty, while also sampling some of the world’s finest whiskies.
The building, which resembles a barn in shape, is clad in cedar siding stained black and set in a herringbone pattern, thus providing the exterior a varied texture that contrasts with the simplicity of the barn’s silhouette. Only at the eastern end do the cedar panels pull apart to reveal the interior and to form a sunscreen for outdoor tastings or other events.
The inside of the building is organised along a split-level ramp that leads past various use areas to the tasting room on the upper floor. Offering views of the Kentucky River this room is staged as the visitors centre’s spatial highlight. Contrasting dark and light colours characterise the interior of the building, which features traditional distilling materials, such as the American White Oak out of which bourbon barrels are fashioned, in combination with modern ones. Along with flexible exhibition spaces and a double-storey multi-purpose hall, the 800-square-metre building encompasses a souvenir shop, a wine tasting room and administrative offices.
“Nous enabled us to realize our vision for a new Visitor Center at our distillery in Kentucky. They helped us translate our brand mission into an architectural brief for a competition, invited exciting architects to participate and ran the competition successfully. We were very happy with all the architects’ ideas and we are thrilled with the design we chose – we can ‘wow’ any visitor who comes by. We look forward to working with nous on other projects in the future.” – Umberto Luchini, Head of Marketing, Campari America
“With our gleaming, new architectural masterpiece, we finally have a Visitor Center worthy of Wild Turkey’s legacy, as well as an outstanding calling card for Kentucky’s Bourbon industry.” – Jean Jacques Dubau, President and CEO of Campari America
De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop:
Located on a bluff overlooking the Kentucky River, the Visitor Center is the newest component of recent additions & expansions to the Wild Turkey Bourbon Distillery Complex, one of seven original member distilleries of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. The 9,140 s.f. facility houses interactive exhibits, a gift shop, event venues, a tasting room and administrative offices. In concert with a major re-branding program that caters to both longtime devoted fans and a growing legion of new bourbon enthusiasts, the project employs a design direction that is both familiar and new – bridging tradition & innovation through an immersive environment of contrasts & dualities.
Utilizing a simple barn silhouette (an interpretation of Kentucky tobacco barns common to the area), the building presents a clear & recognizable marker at the scale of the landscape. Clad in a chevron pattern of stained wood plank siding, the simplicity of the barn form is contrasted by the intricacy of the building skin, creating a shifting sense of scale and tactility that is deliberately both simple and complex. Alternating zones of opaque and light-filtering lattice blur the boundaries between inside/out and solid/void. By night, the dark structure transforms into a delicate, glowing lantern of filigree perched above the river.
Internally, the building is organized along a ramped, split-level public promenade that culminates in an elevated tasting room overlooking the Kentucky River (the bourbon’s base water source). In a nod to the nearby bridges spanning the river, a wooden trestle element provides a physical spine from which the various programmatic elements are reached.
Project name: Wild Turkey Bourbon Visitor Center
Location: 1416 Versailles Rd, Lawrenceburg, Kentucky 40342, United States
Coordinates: 38.042309, -84.850625
Type: Visitor center
Building Area: 9,140 sq.ft/822 sqm
Construction Year/Period: July 2012 – October 2013
Construction Cost: $3.4 million
Project Cost: $4 million
Completion Date: November 2013
Client / Owner / Developer: Gruppo Campari (USA-Campari America)
Architects: De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop – 117 S Shelby St, Louisville, KY 40202, United States
Architect In Charge: Roberto de Leon, Jr., AIA
Project Architect: M. Ross Primmer, AIA
Project Manager: Lindsey Stoughton, LEED AP
Project Team: David Mayo, AIA
General Contractor: Lichtefeld Inc.
Structural Engineer: Stanley D. Lindsey and Associates, LTD
ME&P Engineer: Kerr Greulich Engineers Inc.
Specifications: Conspectus Inc.
Text Description: © Courtesy of De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop, Lichtefeld Inc, AIA Institute Honor Awards, AIA Kentucky Award
Images: © De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop, Lichtefeld Inc.