Clayton & Little for The Bottling Department Food Hall in San Antonio, Texas

Clayton & Little,

Nick Simonite,

Ristrutturazione, Restaurants,


Texas architects Clayton & Little are responsible for reconstructing the historic Pearl Bottling House dating back to 1894 after a fire destroyed it in 2003. A modern interpretation of a heritage building to revive a district in San Antonio, Texas.

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Clayton & Little for The Bottling Department Food Hall in San Antonio, Texas
The Bottling Dept. Food Hall sits along the San Antonio River at the heart of the historic Pearl campus, north of downtown San Antonio, Texas, providing a unique experience as a top culinary and cultural destination. The mixed-use space features retail, dining, picturesque green areas, a riverside amphitheatre, and the third campus of The Culinary Institute of America. Pearl has an industrial past as a former brewery operating from 1883 to 2001, but the Pearl Bottling House was devastated by fire in 2003. Pearl salvaged as much from the rubble as possible and hired Clayton & Little to rebuild the over 1200-square meter structure as a modern interpretation of a lost Classical Revival jewel to create a new sustainable food hall.
The design team from Clayton & Little looked to historical photos and drawings of the original building for their architectural cues. The decorative brick corbeling and stone arches reference the enchanting architecture of the 1890s. With its new use in mind, the architects developed a modified version of the original wood truss design to accommodate a cupola, spilling light into the hall below while acting as a nightly beacon that illuminates the surrounding complex. The new interior trusses were built with Douglas fir while the new wood roof uses laminated Western Red cedar. The addition of a canopy to the north side patio makes outdoor seating a pleasure even on sweltering summer days.
The food hall dining room is designed as one big flexible space, into which the vendor stalls are inserted. The basic design of the raw, steel-framed stalls with milky inset glass windows, and charred wood panelling can be customized to suit their offerings Running along the north side is a large bar with a ladder to access additional storage above.
The materials that Clayton & Little have used for the timeless finishes and interiors are durable and designed to age gracefully.  Honed marble countertops and painted steel and copper storefronts blend with industrial era light fixtures to create a refined yet gritty dining room space.
Pearl is committed to sustainability throughout the whole campus. It is a walkable location, with plenty of bicycle parking and nearby transit stops lessening the need to drive. As an added incentive, Pearl also supports the San Antonio Bike Share Program.  All non-potable water on site is either recycled or captured rainwater made possible through a public/private partnership between Pearl and the San Antonio Water System (SAWS), because water is a precious resource, particularly in central Texas.  The hub’s landscaping complements the brewery’s buildings and is based on native plantings. Indeed, the former brewery has planted a total of 662 trees property-wide, including tall trees and smaller trees, using about one-fifth of the water an average landscape would require.
The Bottling Dept. Food Hall revives part of the industrial past of Pearl Brewery, San Antonio looking to be user-friendly and responsible, and all to the advantage of local production. It is reopening again on 9 June after remaining closed due to the pandemic.

Christiane Bürklein

Project: Clayton & Little
Location: San Antonio, TX, USA
Year: 2017
Images: Nick Simonite


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