Wild Turkey Bourbon Visitor Center

Competition, Cultural, Sustainable

View Gallery

Wild Turkey Bourbon is unique because of its approach to the distillation process. It begins with quality local ingredients of corn, barley and rye which are combined with water from the limestone-rich Kentucky River in stainless steel vats. The resulting mash is then distilled in a heated copper still to a low proof level. The bold flavors of the “White Dog” spend more years than most aging in new American Oak barrels charred on the inside. Over the years and through the changing climate of the region, the liquor expands into and withdraws from the wood of the barrel, giving it its color and distinctly bold flavor. Finally, after a long wait, the appropriately-aged bourbon is ready to fill glass bottles and eventually the glass from which you enjoy the product and all the distinct flavors the process has developed.

The design of the Visitor Center follows this logical and necessary progression of materiality from landscape and the local limestone, to stainless steel with water, into copper, lingering in wood, and finally enjoyed through glass.

Much as Wild Turkey Bourbon is bold, assertive and not watered down, the design aggressively defies gravity as it extends boldly beyond the cliff’s edge. Anchored on a solid base of limestone, the activity of the Visitor Center is elevated, taking the greatest advantage of the natural topography and maximizing the views to the Kentucky River, road and train bridges, and the rolling hills beyond.


Design Team: Steve Ziger; Douglas Bothner; Jonas Risén; Jeremy Chinnis

Team: Michael Vergason - Landscape Architect; Robert Silman Associates - Structural Engineer; Pickett Associates - Local Architectural Consultant; CMTA Consulting Engineers - Mechanical Electrical Plumbing Engineers; BTM Engineering - Civil Engineer

Owner: Campari Group

Location: Lawrenceburg, Kentucky

Construction Cost: $3,000,000 estimated

Area: 7,000

Completion: 2011

Program: reception area, exhibition space(s), gift shop, tasting room, multi-purpose room, kitchen, storage, offices, outdoor deck

Sustainable Design

The design for the Visitors Center will respect and enhance the natural and sensitive environment of the site, involve and empower the community, and embody and communicate a holistic and integrated approach to sustainable design.

The building is sited to take advantage of the natural topography of the site, minimizing the impact of site development on the surrounding environment. The site will protect and restore the surrounding habitat including significant meadow and forest restoration. Bioretention swales will be used for low-impact stormwater management and a green roof will aid in filtration of stormwater. Parking areas will utilize pervious paving integrated with bioretention swales to minimize runoff.

Innovative strategies including low-flow fixtures, waterless urinals, dual-flush toilets, and rainwater harvesting will results in significant water use reduction. All landscaping will incorporate native species to reduce the need for irrigation; any necessary irrigation will be able to use harvested rainwater.

The design first targets energy use and reduction before turning to technology for efficiencies. Proper orientation allows for the greatest control of southern light, reduced heat gain and natural daylighting for the majority of interior spaces. There is an opportunity for significant long-term savings in energy costs through a thoughtfully integrated design of systems and building components that employs strategic use of daylighting and passive solar strategies. An insulated building envelope will further reduce energy use by minimizing heat gains and losses both through opaque surfaces as well as glazing. The building will be served by a geothermal HVAC system, resulting in significant savings in energy efficiency.

Recycled, reclaimed, and local materials will reduce the impact of material resources on the local and global environment. The design will minimize life cycle costs through the use of efficient, high-durability and low maintenance materials and systems. The true life-cycle value and environmental impact of materials will be considered in the selection and sourcing. Priority will always be given to local, renewable, and replenishable materials.

The design will promote the health and well-being of all inhabitants and visitors. This will be achieved through careful selection of materials, adhesives, sealants and finishes to eliminate any VOCs.