Located in Portland, Oregon, Soderstrom Architects
was founded in 1984 and provides comprehensive architectural services specialized in education, civic, and wine and spirits design. We recently checked in with Wayne Van Loon, associate principal, to learn more about the firm. Wayne has over 15 years of experience in the programming and design of wineries and distilleries along the West Coast. In his role as project manager and designer, Wayne collaborates closely with owners to translate their vision and production needs into an efficient and elegant design.
What sets Soderstrom apart from other firms?
Soderstrom’s Ferar Studio began designing wineries as the wine industry was first emerging in Oregon. We are a group of architects that love wine and several of whom have hands-on experience working production. After many decades as a trusted firm designing wineries, we transitioned to support the burgeoning craft spirits industry in Oregon. Some of our earliest clients include Clear Creek Distillery and House Spirits (now Westward Whiskey). Working with Soderstrom means you have a team of designers with not only a passion for creating beautiful spaces but also the technical expertise to manage the complex production and permitting requirements unique to distilleries.
What can clients expect when they work with you?
Our design process is collaborative, beginning with site selection and master planning through project construction and commissioning. As architects, we pride ourselves on having a holistic view of buildings and their sites—we want each building to capture and convey the special sense of place inherent in the site, be it a rural pasture or a city block.
How many distilleries has Soderstrom worked with in total? Is there a recent example or two that you all are proud of and can share some details on?
We have completed six craft distilleries along with master planning and design of more than 60 wineries. We are very proud of our collaborative work on House Spirits (Westward Whiskey) and Freeland Spirits.
Westward Whiskey is an industry leader in America’s craft distilling movement. Their facility was once an industrial storage shed and now houses the largest distilling operation in Oregon. It is functional in design, but aesthetically pleasing and is the anchor of Portland’s famous distillery row.
Freeland Spirits is making a name for itself as one of the few women-owned and operated distilleries in the nation. The Ferar Studio renovated a 1940’s-era grocery store to encompass craft spirits production, barrel aging and a tasting room featuring a view of the distillery’s centerpiece, a custom copper still made by Kothe.
What excites you all about working on distilling projects?
Partnering with an emerging industry that is crafting world-class products and customer experiences. We feel we are contributing to a sea change in the distilled spirits industry—shifting from large-scale industrial producers to hand-crafted, local beverages of the highest quality. We often have the privilege of working closely with the owner, beginning with defining the brand and translating that into a physical space. There is a sense of joy being a part of a brand’s journey, collaborating with the owner, and helping bring their pioneering vision into a reality. Based in Portland and having worked with so many local clients, we love being able to witness friends, family, and the community in the process—enjoying their work, spending time in the distillery, and growing name recognition.
What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to someone who’s thinking about starting (or renovating) a distillery?
We can now find distilleries popping up around the country where there weren’t many before. Due to the increased number and their hazardous nature, code officials have heightened the level of scrutiny when reviewing distillery projects for conformity to building and fire code. Involving an experienced architectural team, general contractor and equipment suppliers early in the process is necessary to fully understand the complexities and order of steps to avoid pitfalls along the way.