snøhetta has completed a new kitchen and courtyard renovation at the french laundry, thomas keller’s michelin star restaurant in yountville, california. the design is the first major overhaul of the site in over two decades, and includes a new kitchen annex for support functions, including the butchery, produce breakdown, and wine collection, storing up to 15,000 bottles. the project doubles the size of the existing landscape for guests, while providing a vastly improved working environment for keller and his team.

snohetta french laundry kitchen
all images © michael grimm

 

 

to begin the design process, snøhetta and collaborators envelope A+D spent time with chef keller’s team, observing the complex choreography of the kitchen. ‘through the rhythm, culture, pace, and precision of his work, chef keller cultivates an environment for his team to excel at creating one of the most esteemed kitchens in the world,’ says the design team. the french laundry has long been recognized for the culture of education and mentorship it provides its staff, and snøhetta’s design not only optimizes efficiency but also fosters a meaningful environment for the chefs who work there, setting a stage for cuisine that ignites the senses.’

snohetta french laundry kitchen
a carefully positioned aperture frames the restaurant’s famous blue door

 

 

the project is shaped by simple geometries that are reminiscent of agrarian architectural forms. the pitched, low-slung roofs of the kitchen and annex allude to their utilitarian function, while the kitchen’s streamlined body is partly clad in charred wood. the familiarity and warmth of the burned finish juxtaposes the more contemporary fritted glass that wraps around the corner of the building. up close, the frit reveals a dense composition of layered, swooping curves, evocative of the motions of chefs’ hands at work.

snohetta french laundry kitchen
simple geometries are reminiscent of agrarian architectural forms

 

 

configured as a single, continuous space, the kitchen is a comfortable, light-filled setting that offers 25% more working space than the previous kitchen. the curved form of the ceiling evokes a tablecloth being gently unfurled across a table, patterned with delicate wrinkles in the gypsum fiber-reinforced panels. these sweeping vaults conceal the ceiling’s functional elements, while revealing long skylights that naturally illuminate the kitchen.

snohetta french laundry kitchen
the pitched, low-slung roofs of the kitchen and annex allude to their utilitarian function

 

 

guests arriving at the restaurant now begin their experience through a sequence of new garden spaces, conceptualized as a series of thresholds. a new vehicular drop-off area welcomes visitors in a bright, open courtyard, shaded by a grove of japanese maples that line a basalt garden wall. this weathered stone wall encloses the garden while framing two key views that orient guests to both the french laundry’s famed blue door and the new kitchen itself. see designboom’s previous coverage of the project here.

snohetta french laundry kitchen
the project doubles the size of the existing landscape for guests

snohetta french laundry kitchen
the kitchen’s streamlined body is partly clad in charred wood

snohetta french laundry kitchen
fritted glass wraps around the corner of the building

snohetta french laundry kitchen
the frit reveals a dense composition of layered, swooping curves

snohetta french laundry kitchen
the kitchen is a comfortable, light-filled setting that offers 25% more working space

snohetta french laundry kitchen
the curved form of the ceiling evokes a tablecloth being gently unfurled across a table

snohetta french laundry kitchen
the french laundry’s famed blue door

 

 

project info:

 

site area: 0.5 acres
kitchen: 1,980 sqft
annex: 2,450 sqft
building program: restaurant kitchen, prep kitchen, wine storage, butchery, conference room, dry storage, administrative spaces
location: yountville, california, US

 

project team: design architect & landscape architect: snohetta
executive architect: envelope A+D
local landscape architect: terremoto
local landscape architect consultant: martin poirier, PWP landscape architecture
acoustician: arup
construction manager: wright contracting
food service consultant: harrison koellner, LLC
structural engineer: vaziri structural engineering
MEP engineers: guttmann blaevoet consulting engineering
civil engineer: CAB consulting engineering
geotechnical engineer: RGH consultants, inc.
traffic consultant: crane transportation group
waterproofing consultant: neumann stoat blanco architects LLP
ceiling manufacturer: GC products
solar panels: NRG
walls, flooring and countertops: dekton by cosentino
ventilated ceiling systems: halton america

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