Bourbon — not only is it the native spirit of Kentucky, it’s also become big business. Major distilleries across the state have become tourist destinations, with many creating tasting and touring experiences right here in Louisville.
So who do the biggest names in bourbon call on for their architecture, engineering, and design needs?
Another local icon, and the oldest continuously operating firm of its kind in the country: Luckett & Farley.
We sat down with Kyle Beasley, principal and senior engineer of the structural engineering department. He’s become the “go-to-guy” for much of the firm’s structural work on bourbon distilleries — legendary brands and local start-ups alike. He’s also influenced a few other aspects of the Louisville skyline you might recognize.
KB: I’ve really learned a lot about the distillery process, how it all works, the equipment that’s needed and how to build structures around them. The building is really a pretty enclosure for what has to function as a process — the right fermentation, having the right still in place, ensuring there’s clearance for the folks who have to maintain the process. It’s interesting to work from the inside-out. Other clients go the other way.
It’s been pretty amazing getting the opportunity to go from America’s largest whiskey — Jack Daniel’s — all the way to Rabbit Hole, a boutique brand with a presence in NuLu.
I mean, who doesn’t want to be a part of bourbon?
Take a look for yourself at Kyle’s work and Luckett & Farley’s cutting edge technology
IT: Tell us more about your work on the Rabbit Hole Distillery. What can we expect?
KB: I think it will be an iconic structure for Louisville. Something everybody’s familiar with when it gets done. It’s been cool to work on something in NuLu and create another great stop along that revitalized corridor.
It’s a distillery, but it’s geared toward the community and tourists. There’ll be a community garden on an elevated roof you can walk under. There’s meeting space upstairs that overlooks downtown. There’s also a gift shop, restaurant, and bar planned — and it’s on the Trolley Hop so the goal is to make it a destination for that.
IT: Aside from bourbon, what have been some of your favorite projects?
KB: I loved the two Churchill Downs expansions, the University of Louisville baseball stadium and the University of Louisville football stadium. They’re all right in a row, you can see them all together. Knowing you shaped that corridor has been rewarding.
I also enjoyed managing the Jack Daniel’s expansion a few years ago, which increased their bottling by 40%. We started with the saw mill, then a cooperage, then a distillery and now bottling. To see that all the way through the process was pretty cool. I’ve been really lucky to be on some major projects that I’m really proud of.
IT: How did you start out in your career and what led you to Luckett & Farley?
KB: I moved to Texas right out of school and worked for a firm designing sky scrapers. When I decided I wanted to get closer to home, I was drawn to the variety of industries and diversity of structures Luckett & Farley offered. We use every type of material and build every type of building — sky scrapers, horse stables, spectator arenas, alcohol production. I’ve been with the firm since 2000 and the variety has kept my interest. Not to mention the rewards of being able to visibly see how you’re changing the world around you.
IT: That’s a long tenure. What else sets the firm apart in your mind?
KB: Besides the diversity of clients, there’s a lot of advantages to a firm with all disciplines under one roof. There’s closer camaraderie, which leads to better solutions. These aren’t people from other companies — it’s your neighbor. Plus, I’ve gotten the opportunity to manage projects — that’s traditionally the architect’s role. You learn what it takes to put a whole project together, not just the structure.
I’d also say this is a firm that’s committed to providing mentorship and helping you reach your goals, whatever direction that may be — whether you want to manage projects, focus on software, be the best technical guy, whatever.
We’ve got a fairly young team that wants to innovate and a multi-disciplinary firm that encourages it. We offer regular training, both leadership and tech training, and give people the time and dollars to stay on the cutting-edge.
You can bring the best new framing system, environmentally friendly material, or innovative new product to the meeting and we’ll work together to decide what the best solution is. So we’re allowed a little more freedom in that regard.
And I think that stems from the fact we’re employee-owned. It’s a different mindset. Everyone’s challenged to think like an owner. Not to do something because you were told to, but because it’s the best thing for the company. Then we all get to see the reward of doing what’s best for the group — it’s how we all win.
Join the Structural Engineering Team!
Know someone perfect for these types of opportunities? Of course you do, you’re an insider! Click here to share with a friend of colleague. Let’s find the best for Louisville!