Popular Local Tasting Room Design Wins Restaurant/Bar Category at Chamber’s Building Berks Awards
[Reading, PA, 10-14-21] – Muhlenberg Greene Architects’ design of the Reading Distilling Guild received the Restaurant/Bar category award at the 2021 Building Berks Awards last night.
Constructed in 1894, the building located at 503 Penn Street was home to an inn and restaurant before becoming a chandelier factory and store, and custom jeweler. In October 2015, John Weidenhammer approached Muhlenberg Greene Architects to evaluate the property leading to its purchase in 2015. The design and construction scope included full renovations to the four-story building to house a first-floor retail tenant and leasable office space on the upper floors. Construction commenced in 2016.
The winning project is home to Berks County’s first craft distillery in the heart of downtown Reading on the first and second floors. The flagship tenant is the Reading Distilling Guild (RDG) Tasting Room located on the lower two-level. The completed space preserves a part of the original building with exposed brick, combined with modern-day industrial features creating a funky vibe inspired by design elements from other cities including Lancaster, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. Inside offers seating for 50-70 patrons, plus 20 more guests in the outdoor lounge. The upper levels boast a modern, professional office space featuring skyline views, for one or multiple tenants.
Firm Principal and Project Architect James A. Sarro, AIA, LEED AP, BD + C, remarked on the project, stating, “We are delighted to be a part of the continual evolution of Reading as a vibrant, desirable downtown streetscape which is welcoming to the community and bolsters area commerce. This spacious renovation has the potential to accommodate several thriving and emerging professional businesses on the upper floors, in addition to the lively retail space occupied by RDG.”
The project is emblematic of the common goal to support area revitalization, with a vibrant, eye-catching front entrance and interior. “Our Tasting Room draws people back to the city, which has so much to offer,” said Chris Flowers, Proprietor of Reading Distilling Guild.
The project is in the Callowhill Historic District, a regulated historic district, which required the Reading Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB) Certificate of Appropriateness for all exterior alterations, demolitions, new construction, and additions. The design was required to utilize elements which contribute to the historic integrity of the building.
Adaptive reuse practices implemented by the MG Architects included the preservation of the existing brick walls and skylight, refinishing and reinstalling the original wooden floorboards, and re-purposing some of the original lumber.
The upper floor front window replacements incorporate new aluminum window frames with wooden details to emulate the historic windows, a design solution which allowed the design to be both energy-efficient and visually appropriate for HARB standards. Renovations also included the addition of an expansive operable glass wall on the street level to create indoor/outdoor space.
Muhlenberg Greene Architects served as the project team lead providing Architectural Planning and Design Services. Engineering Services were performed by BSEG. Construction was performed by Ciatto Construction. This project is owned by Reading area developer, The Weidenhammer Corporation.