Solid Light has designed and built 'The Barrel,' a new art piece at the center of Louisville's Bourbon District that serves as a gathering space and celebration of the city's bourbon renaissance and roots in the Commonwealth's storied bourbon history.
The Barrel is a creative interpretation of a whiskey barrel that tops just over 11 feet in height. Unveiled today, it allows visitors to walk through the ADA-compliant structure and take photos of this new landmark and iconic Kentucky image.
"We are passionate about all of our projects but designing and building a piece of art in our hometown is especially meaningful for us," said Solid Light Owner/President Cynthia Torp. "We've brought to life an iconic image associated with Kentucky and Louisville-a whiskey barrel-by designing a structure that is not only a must-stop photo opportunity that visitors can walk through, but through our specific design elements, will also give visitors a greater sense of what makes a bourbon barrel unique. It's a distinctive feature and hallmark of the Louisville bourbon experience."
The piece has five hoops that grow in height and width, mimicking the design of a whiskey barrel. The two smallest hoops are 9'3" in height, 11'3" in width, progressing to two larger hoops that are 10'3" high and 13'4" wide, with the middle hoop reaching 11'3" in height and 15'5" in width.
The materials used to create the enormous structure reflect those of an actual oak barrel. The hoops are made to look like the end-grain of oak which is commonly used in barrel-making. The visible texture was hand-carved into slabs of clay and those reliefs were then cast in multiple to create a positive image. Finally, the positive reliefs were cast into concrete to form each cross-section of a barrel stave. The outside is lined with corten steel, reflecting the metal hoops used on a bourbon barrel. The insides of the hoops are lined with a black powder coated steel, imitating the char found in barrels after they are fired, an essential step in the bourbon-making process.
"Every element of this structure was created with great attention to detail and purpose so that visitors are immersed in the remarkable design of a bourbon barrel, down to the char found in the barrels," said Mike McCarthy, Chief Operating Officer at Solid Light. "As they walk through the structure, visitors will have a fun and engaging experience that will give them an appreciation for this iconic image."
At the entrance of 'The Barrel' is an interpretive sign also designed by Solid Light that provides an overview of the bourbon industry in Downtown Louisville. The sign includes a map showing all the bourbon historical sites and attractions in the district.