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Yale Students' Designs Balance History, Modernism, Environment and Industry

In Louisville, Whiskey Row now refers to a single strip of buildings. But 100 years ago, Whiskey Row took up most of Main Street.Most companies distilled bourbon in rural areas, but they took up block after block in downtown Louisville with business offices and storage. Prohibition wiped many of them out. Later in the century, suburbanization finished the job with many other urban industries.“If you bring manufacturing back into the urban fabric, there might be more workers to repopulate and reinvigorate the downtown," says Yale School of Architecture student Rafael Ng. Ng and a group of his classmates visited Louisville this week to study the bourbon industry and design an urban distillery that could stand on the block across from the current Whiskey Row buildings at 1st and Main streets.But creating jobs is just one thing an urban distillery can do.“For each student, their prerogative might be different. There's an opportunity to celebrate the act and spectacle of producing whiskey," says Ng.“It would be really interesting to create a place not just for the distillery, but to take the downtown life to not be just what happens from nine to five," says student Seema Kairam.The class is led by New York-based architect Deborah Berke, who was a lead architect of the 21C Museum/Hotel. She likes the history and landscape of downtown, but thinks it's too empty, and a distillery could bring some of the life back.Listen to the students as they take a tour of Main Street:

http://archive.wfpl.org/20120203yalevisit.mp3

Gabe Bullard is the director of news and editorial strategy.