The Pearl Brewery complex in downtown San Antonio, Texas, repurposes a long-neglected site, preserving its historic character while incorporating new sustainable technology. (Click here for a related story.) The creative reuse of this 26-acre brownfield site encompasses a spectrum of live–work spaces, a 150-room hotel, and restaurants. As part of the project, Lake|Flato Architects, working with Durand-Hollis Rupe Architects, expanded the Full Goods Warehouse from one to two floors, maximizing density and providing spaces for local businesses connected by a series of catwalks. Offering lectures, culinary events, outdoor movies, musical performances, and a weekly farmer’s market, the formerly neglected buildings have become a vibrant destination for tourists and locals.

Key to this vision was the strategic repositioning of cars to concentrated parking lots in order to create a pedestrian-focused development that reflects the unique character and culture of San Antonio. The project’s central location, bicycle storage, bike share program, showers, and nearby bus stops encourage fewer single-passenger trips.

Jury: “The key here is adaptive reuse—this project is a really strong model for inserting something new into an otherwise derelict neighborhood of abandoned buildings and turning it into something that could revitalize the neighborhood. It also has a really nice use of indoor/outdoor space in what’s really a pretty aggressive climate. Of all the winners, it’s substantially more cost effective, $141 a square foot, and to accomplish this on that kind of a budget is really impressive.”

The project boasts the state’s largest roof-mounted solar array, a 200.6kW PV system that provides 26.8 percent of the building’s power requirement. To help cut down on energy use, highly efficient ductless minisplit systems serve multiple zones using only one outdoor unit, and allow individual control of the air conditioning in each room. This provides precision temperature control for individual rooms, allowing building users to tune their thermal zone according to individual preferences. Visitors can watch the building’s solar energy being generated in real time at an interactive kiosk and website, which also highlights other sustainable features of Full Goods and Pearl.

As part of the sustainable upgrade, a variety of objects salvaged during demolition were retrofitted to accommodate new functions. Beer vats from the original Pearl Brewery Cellars were refurbished into rainwater cisterns, while the beer cans that clad the studio doors were recovered from the crawlspace of the brewery. Machinery footings from the brewhouse interior became bollards, and portions of the pre-existing concrete foundation were crushed and reused for an adjacent river improvements project. In total, 27.4 percent of the total building materials content, by value, was manufactured using recycled materials.

David Lake, FAIA, principal and Full Goods project designer, Lake|Flato Architects: “We are passionate about adaptive reuse; it is the spirit of our firm. We feel breathing new life into existing structures and repurposing old buildings is the most sustainable thing you can do. In many ways, adaptive reuse frees you of the constraints of new construction and allows you to be more imaginative. The Full Goods Warehouse was a perfect example of how we were able to creatively solve a challenging design problem—how to repurpose an unused warehouse into the central building of this new, mixed-use development.” 

In adherence to the area’s aggressive water conservation practices, the project team transformed the 99-percent impervious site with extensive stormwater-mitigation features, including the use of pervious surfaces, bioswales, and water-cleansing wetlands. One-hundred percent of the rainwater captured from roofs is used to irrigate the drought-tolerant landscaping, eliminating the need for potable irrigation water. This captured rainwater is supplemented by San Antonio Water System’s recycled water program.

Building gross floor area:
63,481 square feet
Estimated percent of occupants using public transit, cycling, or walking: 50
Percent of views to the outdoors: 88
Percent of spaces within 15 feet of an operable window: 15
Percent reduction of regulated potable water: 74
Potable water used for irrigation: No
Percent of rainwater from maximum anticipated 24-hour, two-year storm event that can be managed on site: 100
Total EUI (kBtu per square foot per year): 56
Net EUI (kBtu per square foot per year): 42
Percent reduction from national average EUI for building type: 72
Lighting power density (watts per square foot): 1.22
Third-party rating: LEED Gold
Total project cost at time of completion (land excluded): $9 million

Data and project information provided by Lake|Flato Architects via AIA COTE Top Ten entry documents.