Chances are if you've had coffee in a Richmond restaurant, you've had Blanchard's coffee. Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Company has been roasting coffee in Richmond since 2005 but have just now opened their first retail shop at 3121 W. Broad St.
The architects at Fultz and Singh Architects designed the space, and are also designing the second retail location planned for the Forest Hill development (also a PermitZIP project).
Jessie Gemmer of Fultz and Singh describes their ideas behind the design: "We started the design by asking Blanchard’s what they wanted to accomplish by opening a coffee shop, and then translated that into spatial forms. Their focus was their mission of serving coffee prepared well, educating the public about coffee, and creating a space for the community to enjoy their product. That lead us to design the space plan around the bar, the community table, and the seating area. We took the cues for the shape of the interior from the existing building and the history it carries with it."
Owner David Blanchard explains why they opened a retail location, "For years we have talked about opening a retail shop. Timing and location have always been our roadblocks. We were fortunate to be offered a retail location in the Veil’s new Forest Hill project, and it was not a difficult decision to say yes to being involved! Shortly after we committed to that project, a friend asked us to look at 3121 W Broad, a building, as it turned out, owned by a friend, Scott Coleman. The first time we walked into the space, we knew it would be our first retail location. Simply put, it helps us tell our story and the story or Richmond in a tangible way."
We often work hand and hand with Fultz and Singh Architects, and this project was no different. The historical aspect of it brought some challenges in complying with the requirements of the Department of Historic Resources (DHR).
Jessie explains, "The biggest obstacles were addressing the restrictions of code, MEP, and accessibility in a way that added to the design. It’s a small space, so we couldn’t sacrifice any real estate to things that had to be there without finding a way to make them integral to the entire experience. For example, we needed ductwork to go all around the main room but couldn’t have exposed duct due to DHR requirements. We enclosed it in a soffit that followed and reflected the curves of the existing building and that soffit became one of my favorite elements in the space."
"Every decision was made with deliberate attention from all sides of the project team. There are no place filler elements, nothing done for convenience or because it was the easy answer."
When asked what set this project apart from others, Jessie pointed out, "Blanchard’s is an incredible client, so it was important to listen to them and make sure all the architectural moves respected who they were and their vision for the space. This project is set apart because the collaboration and focus from everyone involved resulted in a design that gives a sense to every visitor that their experience in the space was thoughtfully considered in every way – because it was!"
Learn more about the project.
Learn more about Blanchard's Coffee.