Leonard Engineering

How to Magically Transform an Old Dog-Bone Warehouse into a World-Class Brandy Distillery

When Copper & Kings owners Joe and Leslie Heron were planning the location of their new brandy distillery, one has to wonder what kind of potential they saw in an old dog-treat warehouse on Washington Street. Surely, only those truly gifted with foresight could have imagined how stunning the end product would be – even with an architect as talented as Ted Payne and a structural engineer as knowledgeable as Steve Leonard of Leonard Engineering on their side.

Transforming an old warehouse into something truly wondrous is one thing. Transforming it into something that can support thousands of pounds of liquid gold is another thing entirely.

The Building that had to be Sacrificed

One of the first orders of business was to demolish and remove the part of the building closest to Washington Street. As Steve Leonard said, “it had structural flaws.” For now, the area that has been cleared will serve as a stylish courtyard with outdoor seating.

Making the First Set of Plans

Now it was up to Ted Payne to take the owners’ vision a step closer to reality. The owners wanted to create an experience for visitors who will be touring the distillery. That meant plenty of natural light and open spaces, with breathtaking views of Downtown Louisville. According to Ted, the owners wanted “A contemporary structure that would express the idea that Copper & Kings was something completely different. They’re not distilling bourbon, rather they are crafting a true American brandy in Kentucky. It was a branding opportunity.” Case in point, when you visit, check out Ted’s “butterfly roof” design, created to let in more light and to add an eye-catching roofline.

“The challenge,” Mr. Payne continued, “was to make the owners vision come through with known parameters, budget, code restrictions and existing structure… that’s where the fun began.”

Adding Support

After the architecture plans were conceived, Leonard Engineering had to determine where extra support was needed. For example, the floor underneath the two thousand-gallon stills needed to be reinforced to hold roughly 14,000 lbs.; the front, load-bearing wall was removed to make room for glass overhead doors and it needed a new support beam and moment frames; and, the new butterfly roof required not only a new support structure to hold it up, but also lateral bracing against potentially heavy winds, which carried down through the rest of the building.

Bring in the Crews

After the plans were drawn and redrawn, and Leonard Engineering made sure everything would not only stand, but meet any code requirements, the owners gave their approval and the plans were handed off to the construction crew at Cardinal Services. Both Ted and Leonard Engineering remained on call to answer any questions the crew might have and to make any last minute design or engineering tweaks the crew required. Completing a project like this successfully, requires a lot of collaboration and back and forth with every entity bringing new ideas or better ways to the table throughout the process.

Go Visit

Copper & Kings is very near its grand opening and we encourage you to go take a tour. You’re going to love the surroundings, the views, and most of all, the smell of the brandy being made. While you’re there, do yourself a favor and take a moment to soak it all in and realize how much vision, planning, design, engineering, and hard work it took to make Louisville’s newest go-to attraction. It will definitely enhance your experience.


Receive periodic news & updates via email

Join Now