The Henry F. Ortlieb Bottling House built in 1948, was once part of the Ortlieb’s Brewing Company complex, a dense residential and commercial district north of Center City Philadelphia. © MICHAEL MORAN/OTTO
When architecture and research firm KieranTimberlake began the search for its own building in 2013, its partners were drawn to a former bottling house in Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties neighborhood. Constructed in 1948, the bottling house was part of a suite of historic buildings, most of which had been demolished to make way for new condos. The firm saw an opportunity to both save a piece of neighborhood history and design an imaginative, ambitiously sustainable retrofit.The building had been left to the elements for some time, but despite its state of disrepair the structure and envelope were intact and most of the renovation centered on replacing the roof and windows to make the building more efficient. Through life-cycle analysis, the firm found that adapting the existing structure significantly reduced environmental impacts when compared to constructing a new building.In addition to reusing the historic structure, the retrofit doubled down on the original design’s energy reducing strategies, including passive heating and cooling to maintain a comfortable work environment with a low energy profile. Two years after the move, occupants were comfortable and the building’s energy use was less than half that of a comparably sized office.
The large daylit studio is designed to support a flexible collaborative culture while incorporating original features and new systems.
© MICHAEL MORAN/OTTO
The building relies primarily on passive cooling to the point of the firm initially foregoing air conditioning during summer months. Such an ambitious strategy, especially in the face of Philadelphia’s hot and muggy summers, demonstrated the importance of post-occupancy evaluation and real-time tuning of mechanical systems. In search of a way to quickly, conveniently, and inexpensively generate user data to inform and improve building operations, the firm developed a custom comfort survey application, administering daily surveys to staff, which have proved key to running the building.The simple premise of creating a modern facility while maintaining the factory’s original aesthetic and structure, served as a consistent guide during the restoration. The result is a thoroughly modern and sustainable building that would be instantly recognizable to its original occupants.
Article reposted from: High Performing Buildings Magazine, Ortlieb’s Bottling House, by Roderick Bates.