When Mike Bristol guided tons of German brewing equipment into Bristol Brewing’s future digs at the Ivywild School last week, it was another clear indicator that this one-of-a-kind project is happening.
Though there was some second-guessing in the beginning, construction is underway, the brewhouse equipment is in place, and the book about how it all happened is due to publish in December.
Architect Jim Fennel, who owns The Fennel Group, is self-publishing his book, Build Ivywild, the story of how a couple entrepreneurs can build a showcase of sustainability from the neighborhood up without any developer involvement. He will market it to business and architecture instructors in colleges and universities around the country.
“It’s a great story,” Fennel said.
He should know; he’s been involved from the very beginning.
Mike Bristol and Joe Coleman wanted to build a sustainable, cohesive project when they first co-located at 1645 and 1647 S. Tejon St. in 1999.
“But we hit a lot of roadblocks,” Fennel said.
Now they’re more established and have roots in the Ivywild neighborhood. When the school closed in 2010, the community around it hated to see the school go, but widely supported Bristol and Coleman taking it over.
The two have always been interested in sustainability. Fennel has dreamed of doing something really big ever since he worked on projects in Germany during the 1980s.
“How do you come up with something that’s not just green,” he said, “but that’s a living machine. It has to be bigger than the architecture piece.”
Ivywild is not a green building. And sustainability isn’t strong enough a word for Fennel and what he and Bristol and Coleman wanted to accomplish with the project.
Symbiosis — that’s the word that describes Ivywild, which Fennel calls the first project of its kind that he knows of in the country.
Symbiosis refers to dozens of different elements of the project, from the collaborative way it was developed with input from the neighborhood and surrounding community, to the planned greenhouse, grey water system, heat recycling and solar panels.
But one of the first and simplest examples is what will be inside.
Bristol Brewing will house its brewing facilities on the north side of the old school. A large tasting room with a balcony and big windows overlooking brewhouse operations will occupy the top floor of that wing.
There’s a small area for Pikes Peak Urban Gardens to sell produce. The Principal’s Office will be the name of a wide-open coffee shop and espresso bar, just across from the Old School Bakery, Coleman’s endeavor.
Another small classroom will be a KRCC recording studio, and the gym will be an event space for KRCC concerts, social events, business functions and weddings, says Christina Brodsly, managing public relations.
Children’s handprints, murals and art still cover the walls, and that won’t change. The organizers also elected to keep the bathrooms, designed for elementary kids, as they were.
While there’s a symbiotic relationship between the many community and business functions coexisting in the same open-floor plan building, symbiosis goes beyond that.
In the first phase, the goal is opening the building and laying groundwork for the bigger vision, Fennel said.
Fennel will bring an electric vehicle charging station from his current office and Old School Bakery will include some brewery by-products.
Later phases will include a greenhouse watered with grey water and heated in the winter with heat, all from the brewery. Bristol will use some of his spent grain to fertilize crops.
Coleman’s team will pick food from the greenhouse for bakery items.
Later phases will include community gardens in front and on the roof, along with solar panels.
Eventually, Fennel says, there will be up to 18 housing units behind the school, with perhaps an opportunity for more.
The Old School Bakery will occupy about half of the school’s south end.
“I’ve been playing with pretzels,” said Alicia Prescott, Blue Star’s executive pastry chef who will run the new bakery. “Spent grain from the brewery is actually a hard thing to incorporate into most baked goods without making them taste too hoppy.”
She’s incorporating some of Bristol’s beers in her artisan breads, and she trained with world-renowned bread artisans in San Francisco and Vermont.
Prescott has been making and taste-testing numerous baked goods, finding out what people like and what the market will support. The bakery will offer many artisan breads and pastries not available anywhere else. She expects the bakery will also sell wholesale to area restaurants, and she will offer community baking classes, happily incorporating an education element and the building’s theme.
Bristol has been bursting at the seams. He had to tear the roof off his old building to fit extra brewing equipment inside. The new location allows him to expand dramatically with about 16,000 square feet, including a storage and bottling facility. That’s only about 50 percent more space than his current location. But he can build up instead of out, he said.
Bristol went to Germany for equipment, searching for the most energy-efficient, intelligently-designed equipment money could buy.
“Germany has been dealing with really high energy costs for a long time,” Bristol said.
For that reason, Germans have designed some of the world’s most efficient brewing equipment.
The new system will allow him immediately to double production, Bristol said. And it’s expandable, though he doesn’t expect to ramp up production to that degree right away. He’ll wait for demand.
“But I don’t think we’re going to have to buy another building, ever,” he said.