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“For us, design is the means. The starting points are goals, strategies and expectations, but it transcends them to create a new and better reality. Design is transformative” is the definition of Gensler, the firm that designed the Freehouse restaurant in Minneapolis.
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Set in the historic Loose-Wiles building, a former biscuit factory, Freehouse takes advantage of the existing architecture to celebrate the craft of brewing beer.
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“Freehouse feels like you are in a grown-up Willy Wonka factory that sells homemade brew instead of chocolate,” says Lisa Westerman Pope, design director at Gensler.The building has four distinct zones: the patio, bar, main dining room, and a private dining room. “Each space has its own unique interaction with the brewing process and therefore is named for its own distinct feel,” says Betsy Vohs, senior associate at Gensler.
“Conceptually the brewing was an important design driver and a complex program to achieve in a small space, but the space also needed to be a successful restaurant that was food focused and catering to a savvy neighborhood clientele,” says Vohs. “The balance between brewery as theater and the food as the focus was our greatest challenge.”