When Whole Foods decided to open its first market with an in-store microbrewery and tap room in San Jose, California, the company wanted to build something a little different from your average grocery store. For starters, the building features a charming rooftop beer garden and it's located on a former brownfield corner lot on The Alameda. But the building is more than simply a place to shop for groceries or relax with a cold beer -- it’s also meant to be as sustainable as possible. Architect Field Paoli designed the pedestrian-friendly building with open, active spaces, salvaged, locally-sourced materials, copious daylighting, and it runs almost entirely off the grid.
The store is divided into two separate structures: a 27,000 square foot single-level grocery store and a 5,900 square foot open-air brewery building, operated by Mission Creek Brewing Company. The two buildings are linked by a covered, outdoor marketplace filled with produce and floral displays, which also creates a pedestrian connection between the street and the parking lot concealed in back. Curious pedestrians can glimpse the production areas of the brewery through large, open windows.
The rooftop garden is built using salvaged wood from the nearby historic Del Monte cannery, and other parts of the site use reclaimed western red cedar made from float logs in Puget Sound. Structural bricks were manufactured by a local company, using the natural clay of the Sierra Foothills.
This particular Whole Foods location is also just one of a few grocery stores in the nation to use 100% natural refrigerants in order to minimize contributions to global warming. The freezer and chilled aisles rely completely on carbon dioxide and chilled/hot water loops. Any heat from the refrigerant gas is captured by hot water reclaim tanks and used to generate potable hot water for the store.
Even more exciting is the fact that the store is almost entirely run off the grid. An onsite heat and power plant tied to a generator system produces 90% of the store’s electricity, and a number of the building’s features are designed to cut unnecessary power consumption. Not only is the building peppered with skylights to maximize the amount of natural light flowing into the store, but the building’s open-air design provides passive cooling. The landscaping surrounding the structure utilizes drought-tolerant native plants to reduce water consumption – an important feature in drought-prone California.
All this effort has garnered this store some recent recognition. Not only has the store received LEED Gold certification from the US Green Building Council, but it was also recognized in April by the AIA San Francisco Chapter, receiving a Special Commendation in Urban Design.
Images by Phil Bond