by Elena 09 December 2011
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    La Birreria is a craft brewery and restaurant that covers 6,000 square feet on the 14th and 15th floors of the historic Toy Building.

    The interior evokes a prohibition era industrial brewery, inciting the experience of "discovering" a hidden artifact. The design objective was to use the existing space as inspiration by accentuating the vintage framework. Customers gain access to La Birreria by entering through Eataly. Two dedicated elevators rise to the 14th floor, one down from the rooftop space.

    The custom stair and millwork suggests 1920's industrial construction. The wood floor at the base of the stair is End Grain industrial flooring, Mesquite Block with an oiled finish. The 15th floor rooftop area has a very small overlap with the 14th, allowing only inches to spare for the stair, wheelchair lift and bathrooms. This arrangement proved to be one of many planning and design challenges.

    As visitors ascend the stair and reach the 15th floor, the custom designed copper clad brewing vats can be seen through a black iron and glass wall. The interior storefront top was designed as a transom window to be tilted open and held in place with chains.

    The copper clad vats are set against black subway tile. The design is at once sleek, historical and functional. Additional structural support was required under the floor slab to carry the extra load.

    Outside, custom brass lighting fixtures complement the historical allure. The 12-seat bar is topped with white Carrara marble and the tables are made with salvaged wood. The exterior deck floor was constructed with 6"x24" porcelain tile that resembles wood, called Provenza Axis and the tiles were installed in a staggered pattern.

    The restaurant seats 150 and is equipped with a retractable roof enclosure that allows it to operate year-round. The roof enclosure is made of glass on the vertical surfaces and then polycarbonate on the actual sloped roof surfaces. The roof panels are actually polycarbonate 'sandwich' panels with hollow cells between the inside and outside surfaces.

    The deck was built to withstand the demands of a full services restaurant, kitchen, bar and 200 people. Delicious beer features include combinations from famed American craft brewery Dogfish Head and two Italian craft brewery's, Birrificio Baladin and Birra del Borgo. Throughout construction and as opening night drew near, TPG's ability to meet many logistical challenges aided in successful project completion. Each and every drawing needed to be approved by the Landlord and Landmarks. The whole idea of the retractable roof came late in the design process and in order to hoist the enormous amount of steel to the roof, a special permit had to be issued by the DOT. Only a few cranes in NY State are capable of the job and 23rd Street between 5th and 6th Avenue was closed for a day.

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