METAL CONSTRUCTION NEWS: “Dynamic Distillery — The Rabbit Hole Distillery takes the Grand Award”

In the 2018 Metal Construction News Building & Roofing Awards

By Mark Robins, Senior Editor

RH Ariel View.jpgForm follows process. This is contemporary bourbon maker, founder and CEO of Rabbit Hole Distilling, Kaveh Zamanian’s vision for life and for his Rabbit Hole Distillery manufacturing building in downtown Louisville, Ky. This very modern, innovative 55,000-square-foot bourbon distillery, completed in July 2018, exemplifies this vision. The judges for the 2018 Metal Construction News Building and Roofing Awards were very impressed with both the distillery’s form and process, with two of them even saying that if they saw it from a distance while out driving, they would want to drive toward it to learn and see more about it.

Rabbit Hole Distillery by pod architecture = desgin

“The Rabbit Hole Distillery project is a new contemporary building for a new bourbon manufacturing product in an otherwise traditional industry,” says Douglas V. Pierson, AIA, LEED APBD+C, co-founder/partner, architect and design principal at pod architecture + design, Carrboro, N.C.  READ MORE


pod a+d partners present lecture at University of Kentucky College of Design

Lectures + Workshops - College of Design – 38°84° the power of place 2018-11-06 18-24-16
Pictured: Rabbit Hole Distillery

Lexington, KY — The University of Kentucky’s College of Design website notes: “The College of Design has a revered history for enticing major talent to share their knowledge firsthand through its annual lecture series and workshop offerings. ”

On November 7 at 5 p.m., Doug Pierson and Youn Choi, founding partners and design principals of pod architecture + design in Carrboro, NC, will present a lecture at the UK COD, Lexington, KY, entitled “Establishing a Way of Working.” The website describes the lecture as follows:

Learn how to compare shared influencing factors on varying projects with Doug Pierson, founder of POD A+D, and co-founder Youn Choi. Pierson founded pod architecture + design in 2016 with his partner in work and life, Youn Choi. Together, they lead a hybrid, integrated design studio that provides services in architecture, interiors, environmental and experiential graphics, urban design, and master planning – all within the same studio. They recently relocated their multi-faceted firm from Los Angeles to Carrboro, N.C.


DESIGN & BUILD with METAL: “Rabbit Hole Distillery”

Rabbit Hole Distillery by pod architecture = desgin

Metal Sales Manufacturing Corporation, a premier nationwide provider of metal roof and wall systems headquartered in Louisville, KY, was proud to play a key role in the design of the $15 million, 55,000 square foot Rabbit Hole Distillery.

The extensive use of metal wall panels lent itself to the modern design both outside and inside. Located in the trendsetting NuLu neighborhood of Louisville, this new open floor plan distillery lets guests see all aspects of the bourbon making process. The bourbon experience is highlighted by the 48 foot tall still and a wide outdoor staircase clad with Metal Sales perforated aluminum panels ushering guests to the Overlook Tasting and Hospitality space above the atrium.

Metal Sales’ role in the project started early as the company worked closely with architect Douglas V. Pierson of pod architecture + design PLLC and Luckett & Farley architecture throughout the design phase. Prodigy Construction Corporation was selected as the panel installer.

“We developed the skin of the building hand-in-hand with Metal Sales. When we started talking this was still just a concept,” said Pierson. READ MORE

CHILLED MAGAZINE: “Rabbit Hole Distillery Now Open To Public”

pod architecture + design
Rabbit Hole Distillery, the most innovative distillery on Louisville’s urban bourbon trail, has officially opened its doors to the public, launching its comprehensive tour program and marking a new wave in American bourbon making and beverage tourism.

Offering a progressive tour program matching their boundary-pushing spirits philosophy, the distillery’s tour takes visitors on an immersive experience from grain to glass throughout the stunning 55,000 square foot distillery campus… READ MORE

pod architecture + design

Archtober Firm Crawl: It’s a Family Affair!


Why should artists and galleries have all the fun on Friday Art Walks?

To give local architects a chance to meet-and-greet the public and show off their work, AIA Triangle is sponsoring the “Archtober Firm Crawl” throughout Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill/Carrboro, and Cary. The event is free and open to the public.

What is a “firm crawl?” On three separate nights in October, select firms within walking distance of each other will stay open after business hours to welcome anyone – including families and students — who would like to see where and how architecture is made, chat with the designers, and perhaps win a raffle and other surprises.

pod architecture + design (pod a+d) will be part of Chapel Hill/Carrboro’s “Archtober Firm Crawl” on October 12, from 6 to 9 p.m.

Located in the historic train depot on Main Street, in the heart of downtown Carrboro, pod a+d is a relatively small and thriving hybrid, non-traditional firm that includes architecture, site and master planning, interiors, signage and wayfinding, and experiential graphic design.


Owned and operated by Doug Pierson, AIA, and designer Youn Choi, partners in life as well as work, pod a+d recently completed Rabbit Hole Distillery, a $15 million, 55,000-square-foot, 21st-century bourbon distillery in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Firm Crawl visitors will see scale models, plans and drawings, and photographs of what the Louisville Courier-Journal has called a “modern monument to the bourbon industry.”

Visitors will also be able to look in, around, and lift the roof off of a scale model for the uber-modern house Pierson and Choi have designed for their family of four. The house is under construction now in Carrboro.

“We’re looking forward to meeting a host of local folks and visitors to our town,” Youn said.

Szostak Design, Lord Aeck Sargeant, ThoughtCraft Architects, and Calico-Studio will join pod a+d for the Archtober Firm Crawl in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, also welcoming visitors to their offices from 6-9 p.m.

For more information on all of the Archtober Firm Crawls, go to

For more information on pod architecture + design, visit  Better yet, stop by on October 12!

Subversive Sustainability: Subtle Aspects That Form a Powerful Narrative


The Green Building
Rabbit Hole Distilling










We designed the first LEED Platinum building in the downtown Louisville, Kentucky, area known as  The Green Building. It opened in 2008. Little did we know that 10 years later, we would be commissioned to design the new Rabbit Hole Distilling campus right next door. We completed the main distilling building earlier this year.

Subsequent to The Green Building, the Nulu neighborhood received an EPA grant for LEED Neighborhoods, one of only a few across the country. Now the two projects form bookends that set up Nulu’s exemplary core.

Though the new Rabbit Hole campus is not LEED Certified, it is in keeping with pod architecture + design‘s mantra. Which means there are a lot of interesting sustainable bits quietly woven into the project’s design fabric.  I call it “subversive sustainability” —  subtle aspects of the project that form a powerful narrative in the overall design concept.

Consider the  following “subtle aspects” at Rabbit Hole and visit our website at to see a full gallery of images:

  1. Adaptive reuse: We repurposed an 11,000-square-foot former tire warehouse on the property. One of the “greenest” things you can do in construction is not to build but, instead, to re-use and improve a structure that is already there. We fought to keep the 60-year-old building and work around it because we thought it was the right thing to do.  And we re-used the steel framing removed from the warehouse as our trellis at the front entry.  As a result, we were able to sustain the memory of the old neighborhood, tell a story through the architecture about adaptive re-use, and upgrade the experience of occupying a unique space both in the neighborhood and in the building.
  2. Locally sourced our metal panels from Metal Sales in Louisville: Developed through R&D, we set up a new product with Rabbit Hole as the flagship project.
  3. Local materials, suppliers, and contractors to reduce the building’s carbon footprint.
  4. Dual-purpose chillers and hot water tanks for both bourbon production and building use — which may be a first in distilleries
  5. Production design efficiency: Most of the processing occurs is gravity flow, which meant fewer pumps were needed and less energy is consumed.  The idea: to apply “old school” methods to “new school” technology.
  6. Outdoor air mixing and in production spaces.
  7. Big Ass Fans® in warehouses and back-of-house spaces instead of high-energy mechanical systems.
  8. Tiered comfort zone designs to ensure minimal energy use in a usually maximal energy use industry.
  9. Processing re-use of fermented grain (stillage) as a bio-source of heat for cooker equipment (which also adds complexity and depth to the bourbon taste).
  10. Exterior wood louvers that eliminate heat gain before it gets trapped in the building.
  11. Thermal mass concrete floors.
  12. Quality of life considerations: abundant views of downtown, the Nulu neighborhood, and the bridges over the Ohio River
  13. We also like to think that this distillery is a really cool design that integrates all systems into one coherent sense of place.

On The Boards: pod architecture + design partners reveal plans for their modern house on a hillside

modern custom-designed house Chapel Hill
Scale model of Carrboro House created by pod architecture + design

Eager to plant their roots more deeply into their new hometown, experiential graphics designer Youn Choi and award-winning architect Doug Pierson, AIA, partners in life and founding partners of pod architecture + design (pod a+d) in Carrboro, have designed a modern house for their family of four that they’re about to build on a site that poses a host of challenges.

“No one has purchased the lot for a long time because it’s so hard to build on,” said Pierson, referring to the 1.2-acre swatch he and Choi purchased within a 12-acre preserved wooded area. “It has severe limitations: a year-round 100-foot creek setback, an oddly shaped buildable area, a steep hillside, dense forest coverage, and it’s adjacent to a floodplain.”

Yet Pierson and Choi didn’t see those issues as limiting. They saw them as inspirational.

modern, custom-designed house in Carrboro
Rendering by pod a+d

From their design studio in the historic train depot in downtown Carrboro, Pierson explained how the land informed the custom design of the future 2500-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bath modern house that he and Choi will share with their two young children.

“We’ve chosen to honor the unique site by letting it suggest the form of the house,” he said. “So we’ve partially embedded it into the wooded hillside and opened it up to the natural meadow and creek at the lower elevations. We’ve used the strict construction limitations to establish a design that follows the usable land contours, reflects the climb in elevation by ‘hopping’ up to the higher elevation, then anchors itself back to the top. The form evolved wholly from the site limitations and our desire to maintain the meadow undisturbed.” He paused and smiled. “On a different site, it would be a different house. So we’re very happy that we found this particular site.”

Pierson, whose family hails from North Carolina, and Choi, a native of South Korea, are excited about reusing the Southern yellow pine trees that have to be felled to make room for the house. They’re having all of them milled locally then returned to the site to be repurposed as cabinetry and architectural woodwork.

According to the design, this modern, sustainable house will be a composition of sleek, rectilinear forms, at once soaring and grounded. Huge expanses of glass will frame views of the meadow, forest, and creek and allow natural light to fill the interior. The foundation and retaining walls will be polished concrete block. A terrace on the upper level will have glass overlook guardrails.

They haven’t decided on the exterior material yet. If the past is precedent, it will be corrugated metal. But Choi is still searching for a new cladding material that can be continuously wrapped around the house’s form and respond to the site and the climate.

Inside, their modern house will feature exposed structural steel, polished concrete floors over radiant heating, quartz countertops, and the repurposed southern yellow pine for custom cabinetry.

Committed to Local:

Pierson pointed out that he and Choi have hired green home builder Kevin Murphy of Newphire Building in Chapel Hill, and an all-local roster of consultants and suppliers including: structural engineer Rob Munach of Excel Engineering in Carrboro; Fitch Lumber & Hardware in Carrboro; Stonehenge Masonry and Adams/Oldcastle Products, both in Youngsville; Metal Sales Manufacturing Corp. in Mocksville; and radiant flooring expert Mike Torville of Carrboro.

The Choi-Pierson house should be completed by August of 2019.

For more information on pod a+d, go to and visit the blog, pod news & media. The firm is also on Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.