Shigeru Ban proposes trio of pyramids for Kentucky Owl whiskey distillery

Japanese architect Shigeru Ban is overhauling a quarry in Kentucky into a campus built from mass timber, for a local whiskey distillery.

The Pritzker Prize-winning architect has been chosen to transform the 420-acre (170-hectare) Cedar Creek Quarry in Kentucky’s Bardstown into a campus dedicated to the production of bourbon.

Across a landscaped setting, called Kentucky Owl Park, Ban will design rickhouses for ageing the spirit, a bottling centre, and a distillery.

Ban’s designs are intended to mimic 19th-century steel structures typically used in the industry, but will swap the metal for mass timber.

The concept follows on from the architect’s previous experiments with wood construction – which include his first building in Switzerland – with the aim is to create a more sustainable design that blends with natural landscape.

“This is an opportunity for us to challenge ourselves like never before,” said Shigeru Ban managing partner Dean Maltz in a statement. “These plans serve as our first Kentucky distillery and incorporate unique highlights and nods to the industry and its history, while prioritising light and a connection to nature – features the architectural world has come to expect from our firm.”

Buildings will be arranged around the existing quarry pits, which will be turned into huge lakes filled with limestone-filtered water for to use in its whiskey production.

Among these structures are three wooden pyramids, where the Kentucky Owl Bourbon distillery will be located.

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