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Rustic Aesthetic Meets Artisinal Brews in This Philadelphia Bar

Otto Architects, Three Services Corporation, Assimilation Design Lab

Project Name

Rustic Aesthetic Meets Artisinal Brews in This Philadelphia Bar

Project Status



  • Joshua Otto
  • Vince Massara
  • David Whipple


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Project Description


Create a trendy interior for a neighborhood bar that is sleek, comfortable, and warm
Run 40 tap lines from a cooler in the basement to an opening behind the bar


In the Philadelphia neighborhood of Rittenhouse Square sits the Tria Taproom, a hip local watering hole where bartenders pour beer, wine, cider, and artisanal sodas from 40 unmarked shiny taps. Instead of gawking at a beer list behind the bar, customers order their beverages on iPads that are handed out like menus. Music fills the space from speakers hidden above the bar, which are equalized to deliver steady volume throughout the establishment. All of the bar’s tubes and wiring, from the tap lines to the speaker cables, are hidden.

But the bar wasn't born looking this way. Designed by architect Josh Otto’s firm Otto Architects and David Whipple’s Assimilation Design Lab, and constructed by Vince Massara’s Three Services Corp., the project began with Massara and Otto gutting nearly 90% of the old building’s interior. With each layer they peeled back, they discovered evidence of other restaurants and bars past. “It was like urban archaeology, pulling out all the decades of walls,” Otto says. Once they had a blank slate, the crew set to work on creating the owner’s vision of a trendy place to imbibe craft brews. The taproom is bedecked in rougher finishes and darker materials, a nod to the masculine feel that the client wanted to create. Massara says that he’s especially proud of the work that went into the exposed brick and chiseled stone walls, which he describes as “something out of Pompeii.”

Then there’s the bar, which Massara says is the most complicated beer system he has ever installed. To achieve the bar's seamless style, Massara and his crew ran four 5-inch python tubes—which house a handful of beer lines at a time—from the basement to the openings in the marble wall behind the bar. There was little room for error, Massara says. “You pre-cut the holes and hope that you hit it right. It was a little bit tricky, but we did it.”

In keeping with the taproom's minimalist style, the architects designed both speaker cables and lights to fit within a slot in the ceiling. Additionally, Massara commissioned the crew's plumber to create light fixtures out of a black gas pipe. The end result is worn-looking and industrial, which blends perfectly with and enhances the bar’s rustic feel.

Judges' Comments

The judges liked that the design eschews bottles and cans for drafts, calling the idea innovative and clever. They also praised how well the shabby-chic design came together on such a small budget.

Products Used

Bathroom plumbing fittings: Toto
Bathroom plumbing fixtures: Toto
Countertops: custom; salvaged redwood
Entry doors: custom; En-Motion Design
Lighting fixtures: custom; Otto Architects
Paints/stains: Benjamin Moore
Windows: custom; Three Services Corp.
Other: Micro Matic, tap system

Click to see the 17 other winners in the 2014 Remodeling Design Awards.

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