TN Ward Company - Yards Brewing

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Rendering credit: DIGSAU 

Yards Brewing Company maintains its commitment to Philadelphia.

Yards Brewing Company is “Philadelphia’s Brewery.” So when owners Tom Kehoe and Trevor Prichett decided it was time to expand, they chose a new location in Philadelphia’s growing Northern Liberties section, even though Yards received lucrative offers to move outside the city. In the spirit of its “Brew Unto Others” philosophy, an approach established with the firm in 1994, Yards also insisted the new brewery be neighborhood and eco-friendly and involve the Philadelphia community. Green energy resources, self-contained and closed cycle systems and repurposed materials – such as bar tops made from old bowling alley wooden lanes – all would be integrated into the design and operations.

Yards chose the former Destination Maternity building, just 10 blocks from its existing facility, as its new home - knowing it would require architectural genius to transform the stark brick veneered steel structure into the sleek industrial look Kehoe and Prichett envisioned. Philadelphia based architect DIGSAU was chosen for the task. Bohler Engineering, Chestnut Engineering and Conn Shaffer Consulting were added to the design team to provide site/civil engineering, mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering, and structural engineering, respectively.


Project Phases

A phased project was planned to maintain product availability, consistency and quality during the expansion. Phase 1 would entail designing, constructing and opening the new tasting and banquet rooms and kitchen; designing, constructing and commissioning the new brewery and packaging operations would be completed during Phase 2; and the existing brewery operations would be shut down, select brewing and packaging equipment would be moved to the new location, and the new and relocated operations would be integrated during Phase 3. Becker and Frondorf, a Philadelphia institution, was selected to facilitate all three phases and to represent the owner throughout the project. 

Finally, TN Ward Company, headquartered in Ardmore, Pa., was chosen as the construction manager and general contractor for all three phases to complete the team. “With this project we were betting our future on the build out of the new brewery in Philadelphia, and needed a partner that had the scope of experience and local knowledge to execute a complex project, including a retail and manufacturing facility, in downtown Philadelphia,” Pritchett says. “TN Ward was that partner.” 

TN Ward provided design assistance and pre-construction estimating throughout the design of the facility. The design process for the 70,000 square-foot facility began with the gathering of the design and construction team in late 2016. The age and high bay design of the destination building presented a challenge for the team. 

“There wasn’t a lot of existing information for the building, and we had a very short time to design the Yards facility and get it commercially operational,” TN Ward Vice President John Marks says. “The design team was very supportive throughout the project.” Marks also credits Kehoe, Prichett and Head Brewer Tim Roberts for the project’s success. “They were heavily engaged in each step of the design and construction and made decisions quickly,” he adds. 

The building’s exterior and interior are designed to have an industrial look while also being eye-catching. “With a unique entrance and outdoor seating area among the fermenting tanks, this is now not a bland building by any means,” Marks says. “DIGSAU did a remarkable job of capturing the essence of Philadelphia. The Philadelphia skyline lights up the background and the fermenting tanks are striking in the foreground as you approach the entrance.”

The interior design is equally impressive. Guests will have an up-close view of Yards’ operations. “When in the tasting or banquet rooms, patrons will be in a beer hall atmosphere but will also feel like they’re surrounded by the processing area. They will be able to view every part of the operation from brewing to packaging through large glass panels,” Marks adds. The high bay tasting room and mezzanine level banquet room, each with its own bar connected by a beer python to the brewery, are the primary features of the building fit out. A full service kitchen, designed and operated by renowned chef Jim Burke, is getting rave reviews. A lounge area, game room and retail product and merchandise areas fill the remainder of the public space. 

TN Ward began construction of the $20 million facility in March 2017. The tasting room and banquet room opened to capacity crowds enjoying more than 20 brews on tap and a full lunch and dinner menu in November 2017. Offices, the laboratory and support areas also opened at the same time.

The building layout was used to its fullest extent to accommodate both the dry and wet process areas and cold storage warehousing found in a modern brewery. A new mill room, control room and mechanical and electrical support rooms were constructed. In addition, the building structure itself was modified. For example, grain feed and spent grain conveyors that span the roof required precise placement of supports in the light industrial building. Utility service pipe bridges required reinforcement of the building structure. After the slab on grade was reinforced to support the equipment and sloped to allow wet area drainage, the floor was coated with a specialty topping typical for breweries. The entire process area was redesigned to maintain cleanliness.

The fully automated and integrated brewery and bottling, canning and kegging lines are anticipated to be commissioned by February and start commercial production in March 2018, including all of the relocated equipment. The 100,000-barrel facility will more than double the existing facility capacity and is designed for future expansion as well. The brewery utilizes internationally proclaimed Ziemann Holvrieka and Alfa Laval-designed and furnished stainless steel process systems. 

Overcoming Challenges

Installation of the equipment presented additional challenges to Yards and TN Ward. 

“Given the orientation of the building relative to street access, limited laydown areas, ongoing construction of the tasting room, configuration of the equipment inside the building and size and weight of the equipment, the only practical way to rig the equipment was through a new full bay roof hatch,” Marks explains. “The largest piece weighs almost 100,000 pounds and is nearly as tall as the high bay. It had to be carefully skated in place between process and utility piping.”

Yards, Ziemann Holvrieka, Alfa Laval, TN Ward and TN Ward subcontractors pre-planned every step of the equipment delivery and installation so that equipment arrived from port and was set that day. Thousands of feet of stainless steel pipe and fittings and miles of power and control wiring interconnect the brewing equipment and the brewery with the packaging lines. Specialty stainless steel pipe welding techniques to produce a food-grade material distribution system were needed. “Many of the field welds were in tight spaces and were intricate in nature,” Marks says. “All of the welds were inspected visually by Ziemann Holvrieka, Alfa Laval and Roberts, and were tested by a third party firm. The quality of welds required and provided demonstrates the skill of the tradesmen we have in Philadelphia.” TN Ward box

Conversion of the documented control schemes from a European format to a US format was required. “Cooperation and communication between the electricians and the equipment supplier representatives was essential for installing the systems in an efficient manner,” Marks adds.

TN Ward subcontractors routinely suggested cost effective and time saving construction means and methods. “We appreciate the value our subcontractors added to the team,” Marks says. “Philadelphia’s Brewery was built in Philadelphia by tradesmen from Philadelphia, making this a true ‘Brew Unto Others’ success story.”

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