PhotographerHall + Merrick PhotographersModern Pole Barn Brewery in Southwest Michigan

Modern Pole Barn Brewery in Southwest Michigan

Modern Pole Barn Brewery in Southwest Michigan

Project name: Modern Pole Barn Brewery / River St. Joe Brewery
Architect: moss Design
Lead Architects: Matt Nardella, AIA; Chris Koster
Interior Design: moss Design
General Contractor: Holladay Construction Group
Structural Engineer: Rockey Structures
Mechanical Engineer: Millies Engineering Group
Project location: Buchanan, Michigan USA
Completion Year: 2019
Gross Built Area: 4,000 SF / 372 m2
Photo credits: Kendall McCaugherty © Hall+Merrick Photographers
Text and photos: Courtesy of moss Design

Our clients sought to create an organic farm-to-table microbrewery where customers could enjoy a unique agricultural experience. So they came to us to design a sustainable brewery with a restaurant and tasting room. They wanted a modern building that would support organic farm activity while engaging with the rural site.

Modern Pole Barn Brewery in Southwest Michigan

The brewery is conceptualized as a modern pole barn with a deep overhang to provide shade for the outdoor patio. A combination of corten vertical siding and charred wood cladding wraps the exterior volume. Local stones form the gabion walls and flow through the exterior spaces. And native trees, shrubs, and pollinator-loving plants dot the landscape.

On the interior, corten steel continues through to the bar sides. In contrast, the bar tops and millwork for the tables, made from salvaged wood found on the farm.

River St. Joe Brewery at Flatwater Farms differentiates from most breweries. Rather than outsourcing, they grow their own organic hops, used for beer production and various crops for the restaurant. We centered the voluminous taproom on the site providing stunning farm views and creating a link to the patio and hop farm. Beer lovers can immerse themselves in the beautiful ecosystem and be a part of the harmonious nature that fosters the organic beer process.


Designing a Modern Pole Barn
Pole barns are the tract homes of the industrial rural landscape. These pre-manufactured kits are ordered and shipped to a designated site. Upon arrival, they are plopped down on a foundation without site orientation taken into consideration. Their greatest appeal is that they are relatively inexpensive, hence their popularity. As we have found with tract homes, the problem is that they end up costing more to operate over time because they do not respond to the site for which they were dropped upon.

Modern Pole Barn Brewery in Southwest Michigan

We knew a fully customized building was not in the budget and that the architectural concept had to be suitable for the land. With a little creativity and ingenuity, we made slight modifications to the pole barn model to better respond to the use and the site.

Employing a few simple design moves, we created a structure, while still modular, that settles into the landscape and is oriented with the sun in mind.
The roof slopes completely toward the south so that the full roof plane can be utilized for a solar array. The slope also provides shade for the building’s precise parts that benefit from having the most glass.

Brands / Products
Window Systems: Tubelite
Structural Insulated Panels: Thermacore
Light Fixtures: Halo, Lithonia, Kichler
Plumbing Fixtures: American Standard

Modern Pole Barn Brewery in Southwest Michigan

Modern Pole Barn Brewery in Southwest Michigan

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