Essentially three projects in one—museum, micro-distillery, and corporate headquarters—the new venue showcases the Sazerac company’s legacy brands through an immersive visitor experience while redeveloping an important urban intersection. Sazerac House—home of Peychaud’s Bitters , an essential ingredient of the Sazerac cocktail—is located in the heart of downtown New Orleans at the corner of Canal and Magazine Streets, scant blocks away from the original Sazerac Coffeehouse and Antoine Peychaud’s apothecary. The project merges two late 19th-century buildings, 500 and 510 Canal Street, into a unified complex that breathes new life into the long-abandoned structures.
Abandoned for over three decades, the buildings were renovated from top to bottom, which included stabilizing and reworking their structural systems, removing deleterious additions, and returning the buildings to a period-appropriate visual appearance while adding critical infrastructure upgrades to reduce stormwater load on city systems. The resulting six story, 48,000-square foot complex houses three floors of visitor-focused venues (retail, exhibits, and demonstration distillery areas), a fourth-floor event space, plus fifth and sixth floor offices for the Sazerac Company.
Trapolin-Peer sought to preserve the existing historic character of the building by highlighting the historic fabric throughout. By utilizing contemporary interventions where new elements are introduced, were able to make significant modifications and additions while adhering to the Secretary of interiors Standard for Rehabilitation.
Outside, the building facades required substantial reworking. “It was like archeology,” says Shea Trahan, Project Architect, “we literally uncovered numerous original details, such as cast iron acanthus leaf column capitals and original brick flooring buried under years of renovations.” Working with historic tax credits and meeting the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Renovation, the project includes a mix of restoration, repurposing of salvaged elements, and complementary new interventions. Advanced three-dimensional scanning documented the buildings and revealed challenges and opportunities well before construction began, including developing strategies to reconcile disparate floor levels between the buildings. Scanning also benefited coordination between master distillers, architects, and engineers as they used virtual reality to coordinate the complex mechanical systems required to create a functioning distillery within a historic structure.
The central space circulates around a three-story bottle display wall with a monumental stair. The stair railing incorporates subtle references to the Sazerac Brand and the stair treads are fabricated from the beams removed to create the three-story opening.
The project enables the Sazerac Company to return to its roots while celebrating the continued importance of New Orleans through this symbiotic development. Breathing new life into downtown, Sazerac House revitalizes previously forgotten buildings, and serves as a pioneering model for future investment and construction of mutual advantage for both the investor and the City of New Orleans.