A Historic Rehabilitation Mixes Preservation and Technology with Cocktail Culture

This story first appeared on Retrofit on May 4, 2020

New Orleans’ French Quarter was bustling in the mid-1800s. Pharmacist Antoine Peychaud invented the Sazerac cocktail (the first mixed- spirits drink to be called a “cocktail”) and—just blocks away—two new 5-story buildings rose in the neighborhood. Both the cocktail and the buildings still exist, but the 150-year-old buildings have been vacant for three decades. When the Sazerac Co. wanted to showcase its New Orleans presence, the abandoned properties were a natural fit from a historical, cultural and branding perspective.

Ambitious plans to revitalize the buildings and their prominent French Quarter locale challenged local firm Trapolin-Peer Architects to combine an operational distillery, interactive cocktail museum, rentable event venue and corporate offices into one destination space.

“The complex program is a matrix of uses, all with their own special requirements,” says Peter Trapolin, FAIA, founding principal of Trapolin-Peer Architects. “And the buildings are designated landmarks, so we had to preserve as many original aspects of the buildings as possible to meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Rehabilitation.”

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