Hacienda Alsacia Visitor Center

Designed by: David Daniels, Eduardo Meza and Vanessa Rubio
For client: Starbucks Coffee Co. Floor area: 4274.00 M² Year of completion: 2018
Submitted for: Learning Space of the Year

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About the Project

At Hacienda Alsacia, world-renowned agronomists create hybrid coffee trees designed to withstand threats from climate change. The farmer support center helps area farmers, regardless of whether they grow coffee for Starbucks, learn how to best feed their soil for optimum conditions. Above all, Hacienda Alsacia is a place of people, community and connection.

Located on the slopes of the Poas volcano in Costa Rica, visitors will be able see coffee tree seedlings, pick coffee cherries with their own hands, and watch as the cherries are milled and dried.

“We want people to come here and not just learn about coffee, but immerse themselves in the experience,” said Eduardo Meza, Director of Store Design. “We weren’t building a project, we were building relationships.”

The people at the heart of the farm are represented everywhere at the visitor center. They are depicted in larger-than-life vibrant murals by Peruvian artist Jade Rivera. They are in the center’s pillows, made by women at a local co-op. They are in the wooden rocking chairs created by Mario Arias, the son of a coffee farmer, and his team from Mad Living. And of course, they are represented in the coffee, grown, picked, dried and roasted right there on the farm, ready to be served. Everything is driven by a balance of authenticity, context and community.

What’s unique about it

When David Daniels, Vice President of Store Design at Starbucks, set out to identify the ideal location on the farm for the new visitor center, he began by listening to the land. In the stillness, it revealed what it could become. “We listened to the site and the site told us what to do,” he said. The team embraced the topography, the path of the sun, the wind direction and more, said Daniels, filtering all of it to guide them in how each building and feature should be positioned, working and playing off nature itself.

With the buildings’ open layouts and sliding walls, it can be hard to tell whether you are indoors or outside. The lines are intentionally blurred, said Daniels, to feel more organic. Everything is positioned to take advantage of not only the views of the coffee fields, spectacular sunsets and the waterfall, but also the natural breeze, so there’s no need for air conditioning.

And while the buildings are new, they are meant to feel as if they’ve always belonged, built from concrete blocks, steel trusses and corrugated metal roofs – all locally-sourced materials authentic to Costa Rica.

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Location of project:
Starbucks Coffee Co.

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