Charles Smith Wines. Walla Walla, Washington.

Charles Smith Wines. Walla Walla, Washington.

Credit: Benjamin Benschneider


Rock-n-roll-band-manager-turned-winemaker Charles Smith asked Olson Kundig to turn the 1917 Johnson Auto Electric building into a wine-tasting room and office while retaining the raw spirit of the industrial structure. Leaving the existing brick walls, wood trusses, and concrete floor intact, the architects designed a flexible program, inserting a prefabricated unit into the building. Dubbed the Armadillo, it can transform from an office, tasting room, and retail store into a dining and entertainment venue. Two custom, hand-cranked pivot doors replaced the original garage doors, and double as an awning for outdoor seating.

Jury: “A great solution for a simple space reflecting an attitude of restraint and editing. The project is gritty and urban, and integrates the exterior with the interior for a sort of ‘rough luxe’ aesthetic.”

Client: “It’s rare that you find a partner like Tom Kundig, who not only understands the intent of a project but nearly anticipates it. We were in complete agreement from the onset, specifically about how wine is not about a tasting room or office, but about the vineyards and the winemaking process. The building expresses this fact and brings you to the true heart of what we do.” —Charles Smith

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