Optimism Brewery

Location Seattle, Washington
Design Principal Tom Kundig

The owners of this 400-seat urban brewery on Seattle’s Capitol Hill wanted the aesthetics of the former 1920s-era auto showroom and service area to reflect the utilitarian nature of the work performed within it. The design team was able to retain the ambiance of the original masonry building while still incorporating necessary energy and structural upgrades.

There is no art on our walls because the process and the structure are the decorations. We chose Tom as our architect because he exposes the beauty in the function of buildings. People don’t always understand that it takes a lot of time, effort and restraint to make it look as if you did nothing at all.

Gay Gilmore Owner

During demolition, the team discovered original old-growth fir roof trusses at the rear of the building. The trusses were removed and steel columns added in, prepping the area for a future rooftop deck. The old-growth timber remains in the brewery, however, taking on new life as custom furniture. Large fir slabs are joined with rolling steel frames to form movable tables that are used throughout the seating area.

The best use of resources is to make all fixtures available to all visitors instead of arbitrarily segregating by gender.

Gay Gilmore Owner

The focus of the brewery is on the brewing process, with functioning vessels taking center stage. This brewhouse area faces an open bar, with tables and chairs incorporated into the space. Sandblasted original concrete flooring and board-formed concrete walls underscore the intention of the working brewery.

The owners were able to retain the building’s single-pane windows — a defining feature of the space — despite energy codes that suggested their replacement. The team worked closely with the mechanical consultant to incorporate energy-saving upgrades elsewhere in the structure, boosting the brewery’s overall energy efficiency and allowing the original windows to remain.

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