David Baker Architects

Golden Age Wine


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The lightweight, fiber-reinforced concrete bar was inspired by the color of concrete wine-aging barrels. One proprietor's grandfather crafted all of the cutting boards. Image: Rob Culpepper

Tucked into a neighborhood retail street in Birmingham, Alabama, Golden Age Wine is an unexpected find. The 2,000-sf wine shop and bar is the first in the state to offer natural wine by the glass and bottle. The Golden Age proprietors wanted the flexibility to showcase an unrivaled selection of more than 800 natural wines in a space that captures the honesty, sustainability, and beauty of this growing movement.

 

Image: Rob Culpepper

An adaptive reuse of an original 1962 building, the space had great bones that had been covered up through the years. A dropped acoustic-tile ceiling hung down past the storefront windows, the interior was clad in bumpy drywall, and the concrete floor was obscured by dark brown polish.

The new design opened the ceiling to full height, smoothed the walls, ground the floor surface down to its original aggregate, and reorganized the interior space. The renewed home of Golden Age Wine is characterized by a balance of comfortable warmth and uncluttered minimalism.

 

Image: Rob Culpepper

The brick tile on the front of the bar was handmade 20 minutes outside Birmingham from Alabama red clay and left unsealed to celebrate the wabi sabi nature of the brick. Image: Rob Culpepper

The space included an office on an existing second floor toward the rear. This upper space divides the ground-floor shop, allowing for a soaring tasting room up front and shifting height for an intimate back room for gathering or overflow seating. Arches added to the hallway soften the transition between the front shop and bar and the event room behind.

With the building pared back to its bones, strategic details in simple materials create an inviting, uncluttered elegance on a modest budget. 

Two broad strokes of shelving—totalling 400 linear feet—define and frame the interior. An off-the-shelf modular wall-mounted shelving system paired with custom wood-veneered shelves offers flexibility and character at a modest cost. The shelves were made by local artisan Cliff Spencer and inclue a clever routed reveal on the front of each for the “shelf-talkers”—a signage system that allows every bottle to be labeled clearly without fuss, tape, or fasteners. 

 

Cozy wood benches, accented by leather backrests and blush sconces, provide a counterpoint to the spaciousness in front of the wine walls that allows customers linger over the large selection of bottles. Image: Rob Culpepper

The materiality celebrates Birmingham’s terroir: brick tile handmade nearby with Alabama clay, tabletops cut from local stoneyard remnants, vintage chairs found across three states, and a ceiling of reclaimed oak shipping crates from a Birmingham manufacturer.

The inviting bar and shop was elevated by several key collaborations, tapping into the rich wealth of regional talent to create a beautiful space rooted in place by the wares of local artists and artisans.

Ceramicist Civil StoneWare was commissioned to create truly custom dishware, combining three different clay bodies and glazes for a unique bespoke set. Botanical artist Holly Carlise created a sculpture of dried local hydrangeas for the space, and neighboring woodworkers Alabama Sawyer and Cliff Spencer designed and built the shelving and tables. Proprietor Brandon Loper's grandfather, George Loper, made all of the cutting boards—beautifully displayed behind the bar—by hand. 

The inviting bar and shop was elevated by several key collaborations. We tapped into the rich wealth of regional talent to create a beautiful space rooted in place by the wares of local artists and artisans, including a botanical artist, ceramics studio, and neighboring woodworkers. 

 

The original 1962 building, located in the heart of Mountain Brook Village, had great bones but had been covered and compromised through the years. Image: Rob Culpepper

Image: Rob Culpepper

Image: Rob Culpepper

Image: Rob Culpepper

Image: Rob Culpepper

Cozy wood benches, accented by leather backrests and blush sconces, provide a counterpoint to the spaciousness in front of the wine walls that allows customers linger over the large selection of bottles. Image: Rob Culpepper

Image: Rob Culpepper

The brick tile on the front of the bar was handmade 20 minutes outside Birmingham from Alabama red clay and left unsealed to celebrate the wabi sabi nature of the brick. Image: Rob Culpepper

The red and white oak ceiling references oak barrels used to age wine, but was made from recycled crates once used by a local Birmingham company to ship cast-iron pipes. Image: Rob Culpepper

The lightweight, fiber-reinforced concrete bar was inspired by the color of concrete wine-aging barrels. One proprietor's grandfather crafted all of the cutting boards. Image: Rob Culpepper

The sweeping oak ceiling is a counterweight for the light walls and concrete floor. Image: Rob Culpepper

For seating in the event room, a second-hand table was updated to give it a new life. Image: Rob Culpepper

Most of the chairs in the space are vintage, sourced from a variety of secondhand shops across three states. Image: Rob Culpepper

Image: Rob Culpepper

The shelving system is visually minimal, accessible, and extremely flexible. Image: Rob Culpepper

Image: Rob Culpepper

Custom reveals in the shelves offer an elegant, flexible system for labeling and making recommendations. Image: Rob Culpepper

Floral details by Holly Carlisle add a sculptural dimension. Image: Rob Culpepper

The shop uses linens in the bathrooms and at hand sinks to reduce waste. Image: Rob Culpepper

The space includes 60 seats (42 in the front tasting room, and 18 in the event room) plus a 600-sf stockroom. Image: David Baker Architects

awards

Honor Award
AIA Birmingham

project details

Category

Adaptive Re-Use, All Projects, Restaurants, Retail

​Location

Birmingham, Alabama

Architect

David Baker Architects

Contractor

Sellers Construction

Proprieters

Brandon Loper and Trent Stewart

Permalink

www.dbarchitect.com/GoldenAgeWine

project data
2828 Culver Road  21844
Mountain Brook, Alabama
Completed June 2019
density ratios
project sf 2,000
construction type
1 story plus mezzanine Renovation