Mindful, Sustainable Architecture in the Texas Hill Country

Brewery Dreams
We are proud to partner with the brewery architecture experts at OPA Design Studio. Stephen kindly shares his insight on the Vista design process with us in this guest story.

Stephen Oliver

AIA, OPA Design Studio, Principal

In the language of architecture, the context of a place refers to the spaces that surround a building and how a building or buildings help define a space.

It is the sum of a range of factors — solar orientation, slope, predominant breezes, shade, views — and is shaped by existing features such as trees, buildings, and access routes.

An Architect can use a building’s size, height and materials to impact the building’s relationship to its surroundings to create contrast or consistency. When done well, design positively impacts a person’s experience thru feelings of joy, excitement, calmness or amusement.

Planning Architecture over pizza
Vista Construction Begins

At Vista, our design process began with a nearly untouched site. Its natural, undisturbed beauty was self-evident. Many reflective mornings and afternoons were spent at the site with the owners, Kent and Karen, imagining gatherings of people both inside future buildings and (many more) outside,across the expansive, 21-acre ranch setting. Sites like Vista provide a guiding hand of their own will in the design process.

With so many mature live oaks and elms punctuated by grassy meadows, the building placement focused on enhancing what the site already offered.

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OPA Design Studio Architecture Sketch

We at OPA Design Studio believe strongly in creating memorable places and spaces. Local craft breweries and their tasting rooms are a great program to enable new ways for communities to come together.

By splitting the brewery production and tasting room into two separate buildings and similarly crafting the outdoor kitchen and two food service buildings, we had the ability to create a small village of spaces in and around each. They create a backdrop for the beer garden and a sense of arrival for visitors passing thru the carefully preserved historic stone wall as they enter the property. The tasting room and brewery entrances flank the access to the beer garden and naturally frame the view to an amazing heritage live oak, set against the back drop of its outdoor stage.

 

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Vista Canopy at Sunset
Vista Architecture Meeting

Vista blends community gathering in an authentic and carefully preserved setting. The tasting room was arranged and designed to draw together and maximize the indoor/outdoor experience. It opens on all sides to take in the ranch views.

In tune with the scale of the closely surrounding tree canopies and the building itself, the steel doors and windows stand at 10 feet in height and give the room natural light and a flexibility and connection to an incredibly unique property. The ceilings soar high letting the room breathe while exposing structural beams and trusses to celebrate the “bones” of the building. A combined steel and live wood edge bar counter create a handcrafted experience at the bar, and thoughtfully selected tin ceiling tiles celebrate some of the owner’s favorite, heartfelt memories of visits to English countryside pubs.

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Vista’s design embodies an appreciation for contemporary design, but also a look and feel that marries the buildings and grounds to their intimate Texas Hill Country setting. Accordingly, material choices blend new and old, rough and smooth, cold and warm.

In separating the tasting room, brewery and food service buildings, we endeavored to maintain a strong connection to the brewing and food preparation process for those coming for an afternoon or a pint. Stainless steel serving tanks sit proudly behind cooler windows along the pathway to the beer garden creating a memorable entry experience into the Vista beer garden.

After all, one of the key reasons people enjoy coming to breweries is to gain insight into the brewing process and have opportunities to connect to the product’s creation.

The “chef’s table” at the outdoor kitchen allows patrons to sit with the Chef as he prepares grilled meats and vegetables. As you walk into the beer garden between the buildings, the beer is actually flowing beneath your feet through buried beer lines from the cooler to the taps in the tasting room.

Vista beer literally connects and flows between the buildings. The brewery building walls along the beer garden dramatically visually connect the surrounding trees as by day, stark shadow lines of the tree canopies move along its façade almost as if they’ve been traced as everchanging outline of nature. By night light from the large steel window aligned with the the brewhouse and cellar glows across the garden maintaining the connection of pint glass to the initial batch it was brewed.

Designing breweries has been a joy for OPA since we worked on our first many years ago. While having our hands in the process of creating dozens of breweries and tasting rooms to date, the Vista site, its ownership team, and its unique design experience was an incredible journey unlike any other.

We hope the sensitivity to the entire experience of being at Vista is appreciated by each and every visitor. It was our pleasure to be a part of the team and lasting memory that has been created.

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