Wholesome Foods, Brews, and Timbers

Last week we were alerted to awesome photos of a Whole Foods Market in Chicago, IL that features our trusses in the bar area and reclaimed wood from our sister company, Pioneer Millworks, throughout. It’s funny how often “finished shots” of a project don’t arrive until a year or two (or more!) after its completion. This project was no exception having opened in early 2017. I struck out to learn more about it, connecting with Mark Scherrer, Senior Associate at BRR Architecture and lead architect for this particular Whole Foods, known to us as “Lakeview”. Mark recalled the store with ease and answered questions before I even asked:

If you’re not familiar with Whole Foods, they’re an award-winning national grocer with solid ethos and product focus on natural and organic foods. The stores are an experience, each one unique–any chance we have to visit one, we take it!

Each Whole Foods Market is one-of-a-kind, very purposefully designed. Mark explained that for Lakeview: “We knew we wanted the store experience to end with a big design feature. There’s a sense of ‘arrival’ to the Red Star Bar that you feel when looking out from the grand lobby, and customers are encouraged to make this part of their overall shopping experience.”


Pioneer Millworks, provided a variety of reclaimed wood with original patina, saw marks, and other character, used to accent ceilings, walls, fixtures, and some signage in the Lakeview store:

“We knew we wanted rugged timbers to complement other wood features of the store. Scale was also important.” To make a statement, larger Douglas fir timbers with a custom finish were employed. Spanning 29 feet by 5’6” tall, one curving glulam timber was incorporated for the upper/top chord of each truss.

A multi-step finish and additional texture was applied to create a rugged look for the Douglas fir trusses. The t&g ceiling above is reclaimed softwoods.

Why the stylized bowstring truss design? Mark shared, “The idea was to have the space open up to the store and create an inviting entrance. The whole area overlooks the store and checkout. To welcome people to the bar, the high and open space was logical. The timbers were designed to have a ‘chunkier’ look and feel, intended to make a statement, to draw attention.”

As I thanked Mark for his time he added, “Coordination was a big deal for this project and your team was great. Eric and I had weekly and even daily check-ins. It all went smoothly. My thanks to your teams.”

Our thanks to you, Mark and everyone at BRR Architecture. We’re looking forward to working other projects together. Perhaps more timber is in the future for Whole Foods Market patrons! If you’re interested in seeing more commercial or retail spaces with timber, check out our Commercial Timber Frames gallery and let us know if you have any questions or ideas to share.