In 2013, a quartet of beery-eyed entrepreneurs moved into a warehouse in Houston’s EaDo neighborhood, blocks from downtown. They had a space, a plan, and a product, but lacked a name. Their building’s roof trusses, curved on top and flat on the bottom, reminded them of the Astrodome, a building advertised as the 8th Wonder of the World, where they had attended Astros games as kids. Looking up, the name was obvious: 8th Wonder Brewery.
To translate this idea into an icon for their taproom, they looked across the street to neighbors mak studio (pronounced make), an outfit that focuses on design and fabrication. The company, led by architects Jose Aguilar, AIA, and Liz Ann Cordill, AIA, was new; working for 8th Wonder was their first project. To start, Aguilar elevated the Astrodome’s lamella trusses into a flattened silhouette of angles. He quickly CNC-cut and installed the graphic, including the “8 within a star” that would become the brewery’s logo. The gesture animated the new taproom, providing a pattern that radiated Houston pride. (It also provided a great backdrop for selfies.)
8th Wonder Brewery was a hit! Nine months later, they expanded to fill the entire warehouse, and mak realized another feature wall and display board. In this location, the truss was exposed, so they used clear panels to keep it that way and infilled underneath with painted and rough woods. The “8-star” logo presides over the taps, and a framed portrait of the Astrodome hangs behind the bar.
Since then, mak has completed multiple projects nearby, and they recently moved into a larger shop to accommodate their growing scope of fabrication work. 8th Wonder also keeps growing — it is currently turning mak’s former space into a distillery. The symbiotic design process jump-started both companies, as the architects created a durable graphic that communicates its place and purpose: This is where they make good beer.
We can all drink to that.
Jack Murphy, Assoc. AIA, is a regular contributor to Texas Architect and a master of architecture candidate at Rice University.