Ted Payne, Architect
1121 East Washington Street Louisville KY
Visited October 6, 2015
What a great find, and I almost missed it!
My Bourbon Trail trip put me in Louisville on a Monday and Tuesday – the two days that Copper & Kings was advertised as being closed. After seeing the photos of the visitor center constructed of orange shipping containers, the architect in me decided to email them and see if by chance they would let me in – if only to see the shipping containers. I was pleasantly surprised to get a phone call inviting me on a tour the next morning.
Copper & Kings has many surprises. The entrance, visitor center and store is surrounded by a monarch butterfly garden. It is filled with plants that not only attract the Monarchs, but they also introduced butterfly larvae that will supposedly become migrating monarchs and return year after year.
From an architect’s eye, the shipping container visitor center and store are beautifully detailed. The store has a full glass end wall displaying the Brandy and Absinthe bottles. The waiting room container has a side bay with a full glass wall overlooking the monarch garden. The black container setting on top of the two orange containers houses the mechanical units and forms an archway over the sidewalk ramp to the gate.
Beyond the gate is another surprise – a concrete plaza, with party kitchen, large grill, firepit and reflecting pool in front of 3 large glass upwardly folding doors, each framing a copper still in an old brick building. What a great place for a party!
Now the distillery tour starts. See my separate post on the distillery tour itself. The distilling takes place on the street level. The next surprise is that the storage of the aging barrels is in the basement in what is virtually an underground vault, a portion of which is below the plaza. It gets even more interesting. I do not want to spoil all of the surprises….All I will say is that it involves Rock & Roll and a weapon of mass creation. You must find out for yourself, it is well worth it.
After a quick walkthrough of the art gallery event space on the second floor, we wound up in the third floor tasting room and rooftop patio. A light, tall room with a kitchen counter ready-and-waiting with a full selection of the Copper & Kings brandy and absinthe products. They produce brandy aged in once used bourbon barrels, immature brandy, and absinthe – some infused with citrus and lavender. The rooftop terrace overlooks the Louisville skyline, and the plaza below.
This is a very good adaptive reuse of the old brick industrial building, and the best detailed conversion of shipping containers I have seen. Rumor has it that there are 4 more shipping containers coming – to expand the visitors center due to the popularity of the distillery.
I have only touched on the surprises and layers of sustainability designed in the building, grounds, and unique products. I highly recommend a visit for a multitude of reasons. I will be back…
For additional photos and descriptions of all of the distilleries on my Bourbon Trail road trip click here.
Michael Graves, Architect
500 West Main Street, Louisville, KY 40202
(Last visited 03/20/2011, all photos taken 03/20/2011)