New Belgium Brewery Asheville


Our client operates by their mission statement that business’ can be a force for good. The core values of building community and environmental change inspired our client to seek out a brownfield site on the banks of the French Broad River and River Arts District in Asheville. Restoring the unlicensed dumping ground perfectly aligned with these values. The landscape architect created plans where every choice was a conscience decision to support company values. Rather than demolition, the site was de-constructed with all wood systematically stored for reuse in the project. Importance was placed on the site creating sustainable solutions including solar power, harvesting rainwater for irrigation, stream restoration and storm water best practices. Acting as a catalyst for the community, in partnership with the City of Asheville, these values encouraged improvements to the adjacent street with bike lanes, detached sidewalks and rain gardens. To welcome and create community, a greenway was created on the banks of the river. The project has been awarded LEED Platinum for the visitor focused portion of the site.


Asheville has the second highest number of breweries per capita and is a tourist destination. Community and environmental responsibility both resound with the city and brewery.  Finding the site that had over a 100 years of dumping of cars and construction debris left a toxic land that needed cleaning up. The brewery looked to clean up and transform the 18 acre property to a business that helps connect community via car, bike, boat and foot. On site, a ravine was adrainage ditch which flowed directly to the French Broad River and was littered with construction debris, concrete slabs and old cars and tires. The riverbank was overrun with vines and weeds. The site was degraded and when the brewery tested the soil the results showed contaminates that included small amount of lead- based paint, some petroleum, methane, asbestos containing materials and construction landfill debris.

There were two components to the site, the space to produce beer and the ability to welcome the community and visitors to the facility and celebrate being on the river.  The landscape architect wanted to recognize that the landmark on this site is the river, so they established early on that the actual “front” of the brewery is facing the river.  The studio used the site as true to its form as possible while restoring the riparian landscape that had been swallowed up by invasive species and weeds.  The old storage space was converted to a place for people to establish a community space.  The largest space requirements was needed for the brewery operations along with truck access. The landscape studio found the natural fit was on the larger lower space.  This layout created a business side and visitor side, separated by elevation and the stream.

With the layout established by the landscape architect and brewery, the studio worked on creating a sustainability at the brewery. The brewery diverted 97% of waste from local landfills.  During construction, all timber was stockpiled from the site the materials were repurposed for either re-use or recycling. This totaled 14 linear miles of wood and metal. 90% of the brewery artwork was done by artists within a 3-mile radius of the brewery, and includes tile mosaics around the brewing vessels, bar tops, and tap towers.

From rubble filled ditch, the studio worked to restore to a micro ecosystem that can handle the storm surges in the form of a stream. The City of Asheville’s investment to the project assisted in this restoration along with a new greenway along the banks of the river. The creek had to be transformed from a deep channel that was sending sediment into the French Broad River, to a water way that can run low but also handle the volume of water coming in the more frequent heavy storms brought upon by climate change.

This transformation involved some of the biggest earthworks on site to transition from high of the landfill to the lower non-landfill side.  The studio then executed the plan to re-vegetate the creek so it could grow into a rich landscape. We planted native riparian vegetation on the streambanks to prevent erosion, and the brewery adopted an Integrated Pest Management program where hardy, native species were selected for reintroduction. It also required fine and detailed earthworks to create riffles and ponds to slow the water down.  Due to the flooding nature of this drainage basin and the soils of the creek area, the studio created walls to maintain the streams integrity while allowing water to get to the river quickly as needed. The stream was named Penland Creek after a local family who has ties to the land.

While the site needed a lot of cleanup and restructuring, the studio wanted to preserve the drainage and wetland areas that were occurring on site. The landscape architect transformed the was drainage ditch into a stream, and the wet area into a functional wetland. Taking cues from the existing systems and not altering their course but designing so they remained but were enhanced.

It was critical that the streamer on site was handled in a responsible way, and ensured all stormwater went through a series of steps before entering the river.  For the upper side, bioswales were used for the parking areas, as well as bio-retention basin before water entered Penland Creek.  On the brewery side, two wetland areas were enhanced. The stormwater now moves through both wetlands before being released in the river.   This overall connected systems became a model for Low Impact Development for the City of Asheville.

The previous site as a whole had 462,000 sf of impervious materials.  After this was developed, the entire site managed to reduce that by 30% to 322,000 sf of impervious.  The previous site had zero storm water management processes. The studio reduced the use of lawn, and only focused on irrigating the multi-use lawn.

The site plan focused on planting pollinators on site for bees, butterflies, birds and bats. The brewery planted 400 trees, 1700 shrubs on site, not including the greenway and stream restoration projects. Seed mix planted along the berms help remove pollutants from the soil.

Asheville averages 44” of rain a year.  However, the area will go through drought cycles and the studio made a practical plan to harvest rainwater for irrigation.  The plan includes harvesting rainwater that landed on site to offset these dry spells with irrigation. This concept is not new but it requires financial investment and infrastructure. Keeping with the brewery’s mission they were happy to invest in capturing rainwater. We ended up installing 3 cisterns for irrigation needs, each one holding 9400 gallons for a total 28,200 gallons on site.

Only a small portion of the entire site is irrigated. The balance of having a landscape that can thrive in the local climate without being too high maintenance and that did not demand a lot of water was a balance the studio and brewery worked hard to achieve. The focus on irrigation was kept for the main lawn which encounters the bulk of community gathering and wear and tear. The main lawn and plaza landscape have irrigation to be used for dry periods.  Very little of the entire site is irrigated. The studio was deliberate about it highlighting the cisterns that almost look like brewing equipment as part of the entry and arrival.

Architecturally, the site uses natural light in the two main buildings, the Liquid Center and the brewhouse building.  Additionally, the production area utilized a saw tooth roof design that allows natural light, and therefore reducing artificial light in the production area.  Solar panels are used on site as well.  All building contain operable windows for pleasant weather days. The windows automatically shut off the mechanical system so there is no air conditioning the space that is opened up to the nicer weather.

The landscape architect led the feasibility of the site, sustainability initiative, design and masterplan with the client and later collaborated with the architect as the site developed.

Reclamation of the site provided access to the river for the community through a new greenway, restored river embankment with the removal of invasive weeds, passive recreation from the brewery site, and a large place on the river that allows for community use. Acting as a catalyst for the community, in partnership with the City of Asheville and residents, the values of the brewery encouraged improvements to the adjacent street with bike lanes, detached sidewalks and rain gardens.

The brewery was true to its mission to be a force for good.  Together a space was created on the river for their community to gather in a parklike setting that showcases the French Broad River.  The brewery and studio worked hard to engage in sustainable practices within a restored and regenerative landscape.

Plant List


  • Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ (Bloodgood Japanese maple)
  • Acer rubrum ‘October Glory’ (‘October Glory’ red maple)
  • Acer saccharum ‘Legacy’ (Legacy sugar maple)
  • Aesculus glabra(Ohio buckeye)
  • Amelanchier arborea ‘autumn brilliance’ (Downy serviceberry)
  • Amelanchier canadensis ‘sprizam’ (Spring Glory serviceberry)
  • Betula nigra ‘Heritage’ (Heritage river birch)
  • Cercis canadensis ‘Appalachian Red’ (Appalachian Red redbud)
  • Chionanthus virginicus (White fringetree)
  • Cornus florida ‘cherokee princess’ (Cherokee Princess flowering dogwood)
  • Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
  • Fraxinus pennsylvanica ‘Marshall’ (Marshall green ash)
  • Helesia tetraptera (Mountain silverbell)
  • Ilex decidua (Possumhaw holly)
  • Ilex opaca (American holly)
  • Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Rotundiloba’ (Sweet gum ) Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip tree)
  • Magnolia acuminata (Cucumber tree magnolia )
  • Magnolia grandiflora ‘Bracken’s Brown Beauty’ (Southern magnolia)
  • Nyssa Sylvatica (Sour Gum)
  • Oxydendrum arboretum (Sourwood)
  • Pinus strobus (Eastern white pine)
  • Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
  • Quercus lyrata ‘Highbeam’ (Highbeam overcup oak)
  • Quercus shumardii ‘Panache’ (Panache Shumard oak)
  • Thuja occidentalis ‘Green Giant’ (Green Giant American arborvitae)
  • Tsuga caroliniana (Carolina hemlock)
  • Ulmus parvifolia ‘Emer II’ ALLEE (Allee Lacebark elm)



  • Azalea kurume hybrid ‘Appleblossom’ (Appleblossom kurume azalea)
  • Calycanthus floridus (Eastern sweetshrub)
  • Cephalanthus occidentalis (Common buttonbush)
  • Cornus sericea (Red twig dogwood)
  • Cornus sericea ‘flaviramea’ (Yellow twig dogwood )
  • Forsythia x intermedia ‘Arnold’s dwarf’ (Arnold’s Dwarf forsythia)
  • Hamamelis virginiana (American witch hazel)
  • Ilex glabra ‘Chazmin’ NORDIC (Nordic inkberry holly)
  • Ilex glabra ‘Densa’  (Inkberry holly)
  • Ilex verticillata (Common winterberry)
  • Juniperus conferta (Shore juniper)
  • Juniperus virginiana ‘Grey Owl’ (Eastern red cedar)
  • Lindera benzoin (Northern spicebush)
  • Rhododendron x ‘Purple Gem’ (Purple Gem rhododendron)
  • Rhododendron x ‘Yaku Princess’ (Yaku Princess rhododendron)
  • Rosa x ‘Radcor’ PP17346 (Rainbow Knock Out rose)
  • Viburnum tinus ‘Spring Bouquet’ (Spring Bouquet laurestinus)
  • Viburnum x rhytidophyllum ‘Alleghany’ (Leatherleaf viburnum)



  • Campsis Radicans (Trumpet Creeper)


Ground Covers

  • Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly milkweed)
  • Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama)
  • Chasmanthium Latifolium (Indian woodoats)
  • Echinacea Purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower)
  • Hypericum calycinum (Creeping St. John’s Wort)
  • Juncus effusus (Soft rush)
  • Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower)
  • Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry)
  • Panicum Virgatum (Switchgrass)
  • Panicum Virgatum ‘Northwind’ (Northwind switchgrass)
  • Rudbeckia hirta ‘Indian Summer’ (Indian Summer black-eyed Susan)
  • Sisyrinchium angustifolium (Narroleaf blue-eyed grass)
  • Solidago rugosa (Wrinkleleaf goldenrod)



  • Elite tall fescue seed by super-sod (Testuca arundinacea)
  • Festuca brevipila, ovina, rubra blend (No mow fine fescue mix)
  • Meadow seed mix (Ernst conservation seeds custom mix)

Documents and Media

Planning Docs (if applicable):