Saturday, January 12, 2008

Boxwood Architect's Waters Winery

Joe Chauncey of Boxwood architect's designed these two buildings for Waters Winery in Walla Walla. Currently I am designing a remodel of a two-building winery in Zillah so I took a keen interest in this building once I found it. Here is my rambling and opinionated review:

Things I like about the building:

1. The way the space between the Tasting Room and the Winery works. It reminds me of a James Turrell in its simplicity and peace. I think that it works nicely as an entry-way or mediating space. This picture especially:

2. The thought given to every aspect of how the building would work with the wine: In the aging rooms the walls are 17 inches thick to mediate temperature fluctuation and the need for a lot of temperature mediation (AC or Heat running all the time); The skylight in the Winery and its sheer size to mediate the amount of artificial - or even worse, the dreaded fluorescent - lights.

3. The balance between mod and vintage. I mean, come on, who else but Boxwood would have thought of putting that much curl in a script on that CMU wall (above)? More generally though, I think the reuse of recycled materials is almost there - most work for me, but some really don't. Also, the polished concrete floor is something that has been in my design for the smaller building since you showed them to me, and I think this winery proved that materials don't necessarily define experience or "feel" of the building. In normal terms, I love the way the floor and wall materials work together. Also, the way the concrete floor in the Winery works for both dinners/special occasions and the yearly Crush.

Things I don't like about that building:

1. Cost. 2 million dollahs?

2. The building comes off as trying a bit to hard to be both familiar and fancy. Again, the flowery logo on a CMU wall? It seems like the aesthetic of the winery and wines doesn't fit their winery perfectly.

3. The rusted metal siding and roof. I love using recycled materials - it often works really really well. This one doesn't. I think why it doesn't work is because everything else is so clean - the wood, the concrete, the CMU wall (which I hate how that looks if you couldn't tell already) - and the rust just doesn't work. I think it actually may not work because there are a lot of materials - CMU, concrete, glass, wood trusses, wood siding, vinyl, steel - and a lot of treatments - black paint, stain, rust, floor polish, et cetera. Too many textures and too many materials. Now a lot of materials can work, but it is easier to make it work if each building has a focus. Here they try and unite the building too much.

As a rating I'll give it a 3.7/5 overall. I think the "feel" or experience of the building is a 4.3/5, but materials usage is a 3.1/5.

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