I took a tour of The Pearl Brewery last week, led by REAL ARCHITECTS. Although I’m not associated with such building architects normally, I was pleased to see how ENTERPRISE ARCHITECTURE is applicable in the work associated with the development of this former brewery, originally built in 1883, as it transforms itself it 1.2 million square feet of retail, commercial and living spaces.
Since I’ve put the qualifier, REAL, in front of the word, architect, we should start off with a quick aside to define the word architect. Wikipedia defines an architect as follows:
An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings, and is licensed to practice architecture. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the buildings, that have as their principal purpose human occupancy or use
Relative to my blog about what constitutes a real enterprise architect, if we extrapolated this definition a bit to those who “offer or render services [with regard to enterprise architecture]” then I see wider context for “real enterprise architects”. But, I digress.
The tour was led by the chief architect (a member of the San Antonio chapter of the American Institute of Architects), focused upon one aspect of the overall site, the Culinary Institute of America expansion. Due to open on October 9, and still under construction, it was an excellent tour (complete with hard hats).
We began by climbing the 6 floors of the building, along the outside stairs and in the Texas heat (think 100F/38C), because the elevators weren’t certified yet. We toured one of the new penthouses and viewed a water tank, used to re-purpose rain water for the building, that had been saved from another part of the brewery. Many such additions existed within the building, as this supported the principles for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED); wikipedia defines this as an:
…internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies intended to improve performance in metrics such as energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.
I immediately thought of these as principles that guide the selection, creation and implementation of…enterprise architecture!
From here, we walked through the parking garage, down stairs to offices and learning kitchens for the Culinary Institute. From there we crossed to visit some additional apartments. The odd configuration of the building on the site prompted a number of questions:
- Why are the balconies so small on the apartments?
- How come the easement between buildings are so short?
- Why is so much packed into this building that could have been shared amongst other buildings on the site?
The answers were, not surprisingly, the types of answers I hear from ENTERPRISE architects. In short, we were told that:
Although the entire site was owned by a single owner, regeneration of the site required that each portions would be distinctly marked out as its own legal entity. This, in turn, was attractive to banks and other investors in case the entire complex needed to broken up and sold after all parts were completed. It was also attractive to banks and other investors because they could invest in each piece as they wished, limiting their exposure to the overall enterprise. As a result, each distinct area had to be treated as such; thus, shorter easements and smaller balconies and self-contained systems.
Down the stairs again we passed one of the former smoke stacks of the brewery, still intact, and came into the first floor of offices, packed with video conferencing gear for the Culinary Institutes New York and California locations and teaching kitchens. As we came down to the ground floor, the exposed ceilings showed the grease reclamation pipes and densely packed gear to support 150 cooking students at one time and over 1,500 over the course of a year. The amount of kit to handle fire safety, moving heat and smoke outside safely, keeping the environment cool to work in given the heat generated in the kitchens and that Texas heat trying to bake all the people inside (and outside) the building was just plain impressive.
Squeezing all of this in the confines of a site constrained physically, legally, and in keeping with building codes and principles such as LEED as well as considering the occupants inside this element of the site and the connection with the overall site and its use was a critical reminder of what enterprise architects do everyday for their businesses.
On a side note, Pearl beer is still beered by a contract brewer, Pabst, at SAB Miller’s facility in Fort Worth, TX. It’s not easy to come by and, by many accounts, tasting it may account for the brewers eventual demise. Another beer, more well known, that was also brewed in San Antonio originally is Lone Star, the National Beer of Texas. In the oppressive heat of the Texas summer, a cold one of almost any flavor is most welcome and you’ll still find a cold one waiting for you at The Pearl Brewery, on the San Antonio River, in San Antonio, Texas, USA.