Perched in the verdant hills outside San José, Costa Rica, sits a coffee lover’s dream: Starbucks’s Hacienda Alsacia, an experiential visitor center devoted to the caffeinated beverage. Visitors can learn about harvesting and roasting processes, a variety of brewing techniques—and, of course, sip some of the company’s signature drink. The 46,000-square-foot hacienda is the public gateway to Starbucks’s surrounding research-focused coffee farm, where the java giant tests new growing techniques and develops better farming strategies that are then shared with growers around the world.

Designed by Starbucks’s in-house team, led by David Daniels, AIA, the hacienda is meant to be more than just a variation of the chain’s typical stores. “Everything needed to be authentic, everything needed to be contextual, and everything needed to be driven by creating a space for community,” Daniels said. Those principles led Daniels and his team to design a low-slung structure with exposed steel columns and roof trusses, polished concrete floors, and a wood-lined ceiling that gently peeks over a generously proportioned cafe overlooking the rolling hillside. Because the team wanted to connect visitors to the spectacular site as closely as possible, they opted for a glazed operable wall system from LaCantina Doors to line more than 60 feet of one of the grand room’s long sides. The team chose the company’s aluminum system in a bronze anodized color because LaCantina’s doors were reliably available from a local provider, Bella Vida. Further, Adrián Jiron-Beirute of Jirón-Beirute Arquitectura, who led the local team, felt that they offered the right balance of design and durability for the rustic setting.

Operability is crucial for this wall because, while the coffee farm enjoys an agreeably balmy climate most of the time, the mountain weather can occasionally be pretty punishing. Jiron-Beirute said, “During the dry season we have lots of sun, but it gets very windy; and during the rainy season we have sun during the mornings and a lot of rain in the afternoons.” The operable glass wall ensures that no matter the weather, the only mud inside is the kind being peacefully sipped from a cup.

Location: Outside San José, Costa Rica
Architect: Starbucks Global Creative
Wall system: LaCantina Doors
General contractor and project manager: Ventajas Mundiales
Architecture construction drawings + coordinator of the consulting team: Jirón-Beirute Arquitectura
Structural engineer: BA Ingeniería
Hydraulic and electric engineer: Circuito
Landscape design: PPAR
Lighting design: Lumina Lighting Design

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