The project started with a phone call from Ironbound founder Charles Rosen, who asked if we could inspect the 18th-century barn on the old farm he had just purchased in Asbury, New Jersey. In our first meeting with Charles we learned that, in colonial days, New Jersey had been famous for its apple varieties and the hard cider made from them. He wanted to revive these lost apple varieties using a regenerative agriculture approach that restores the farm's soil. Since that first meeting, the 100-acre property has transformed into Ironbound Farm, the production and distribution headquarters of Ironbound Hard Cider, and a culinary destination where visitors can experience the bounty of New Jersey’s produce and the talents of its chefs and artisanal food makers. MDB's role has been to coordinate the design (in collaboration with Pickell Architecture), manage the construction and execute the carpentry for this transformation. The goal was to create a space that met the farm's practical needs for growing food and making cider and to provide a unique experience for visitors.
Upon arriving, visitors follow a curved path from the parking area to a large courtyard framed by wire gabion baskets. These are filled with rocks that farmers cast aside over the past 200 years of tilling the fields. From here, they can visit the tasting room situated on the upper level of the old barn. Offices and areas for production and private use are tucked into the lower levels of the building. Previous owners had covered the barn's walls with layers of sheetrock and dropped the ceilings. We stripped them back to reveal the beautiful oak timbers and open spaces, and installed a glass wall in the tasting room to afford a view of the fermentation tanks below. At Charles's request, we used reclaimed material wherever possible. We re-purposed old high school bleachers and basketball courts for flooring, made bar tops from found metal, and clad the walls in wood salvaged from locally barns.
Outside the barn, guests can relax in the courtyard or watch chefs work at the massive grill that we built in collaboration with T Johnson Design. When hunger strikes, they can enjoy their food in the shelter of the pavilion, a structure inspired by stacks of lumber drying at sawmills, and built from a pile found at a defunct transfer station nearby. Visitors can explore the newly-planted orchards where apples will provide cider for many years to come.