By Joseph Ditzler • The Bulletin

What: Ascent Architecture and Interiors

What it does: Designs buildings

Employees: 13

Pictured: Seth Anderson, principal architect

Where: 920 NW Bond St., Suite 204, Bend

Phone: 541-647-5675


Seth Anderson, founder and principal architect at Ascent Architecture and Interiors has one rule when it comes to designing breweries and brewpubs: no barnwood.

“I have a no barnwood policy,” he said at the firm’s office on NW Bond Street, Bend, recently. “It’s been done and done and done. It has applications, but it’s not unique anymore.”

Step into Worthy Brewing Co., on Bend’s east side, where Ascent designed a dining room addition and a silo-like tower to house a telescope for astronomical viewing, or Silver Moon Brewing’s revamped downtown brewpub on NW Greenwood Avenue or Wild Ride Brewing’s brewpub on SW Fifth Street, Redmond. The hallmarks of a space designed by Ascent become apparent. Each incorporates clean lines and elemental materials: steel, wood, concrete, brick. Each has its own interior based on a spare, industrial design with muted, natural colors and its own story to tell.

“There’s a connection with the industrial nature of brewing, I think, that’s part of it; there’s lot of shiny steel and copper and plumbing lines and those kinds of things,” said Anderson, 38. “As architects, we appreciate it because it’s an expression of the actual materials.”

Ascent stepped beyond Oregon borders to design an 11,000-square-foot restaurant and 15-barrel brewhouse in Missoula, Montana, under construction for Conflux Brewing Co. Conflux co-founder Hugh Yates said his sister, Taryn Yates, a Bend resident, knows Anderson’s wife, Michelle Anderson, from horse show circles. The friend-of-the-family link provided the introduction; Ascent’s work elsewhere provided proof the firm could design a working brewpub.

“We definitely wanted to embrace the industrial piece, so we started out with that as our vision and it took a little bit of a modern turn,” said Hugh Yates on Monday. “Ascent was amazing. They tried to make our building fit with downtown Missoula but at the same time look like something that’s not from around here.”

The Bulletin talked to Anderson about his work in designing breweries and brewpubs. His answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Q: Where are you from?

A: I’m originally from the Puget Sound area. I went to school at Washington State, lived in Idaho for a while, worked in Idaho for a while and then took a job when Bend was booming in 2004. I started with Steele Associates Architects and worked there for almost eight years before leaving to go out on our own.

Q: You’ve been growing, adding more employees to the firm.

A: We just hired our 13th employee. Our growth started with senior living and multifamily (projects). We built a reputation on tenant improvements, remodels, things like restaurants and gelato shops. Recently, brewers have been good for us, and we’re getting a lot of interest from developers on ground-up construction.

Q: How much of your work within the firm is devoted to brewers?

A: Probably 25 percent. We would like to be known as architects that understand the brewing process and that we are helpful in that we do layouts. We think about long term. It’s been pretty typical in (the brewing) industry that success is better than they expect, but being able to plan for a little bit of that success, so you don’t box yourself in, is important.

Q: You’re a homebrewer. How far back does that interest go?

A: To college. Architecture at Washington State was a five-year program at the time. When I was not in studio, I was home brewing and I just had a great time with it. It’s like cooking to me; put the ingredients together and see what comes out.

Q: How do you communicate your expertise to brewers?

A: Brewers, in particular, speak a certain language. They talk about their equipment and their process in a certain way. Having that understanding and that ability to communicate without having to learn from scratch what that equipment does and why it needs to be positioned in a certain way in the building and have a certain access gives us a leg up.

Q: You talked about beer culture, when you work on the pub side, do you work strictly from an architectural perspective or do you incorporate a design element?

A: We do both. We have on-staff interior designers that are trained in that part of the discipline. So you can think of the two as architecture is how things function and the exterior aesthetic and it gets a little bit into the look and feel of the interior, how the spaces relate to each other.

Q: Do you try to incorporate the brewery story?

A: Breweries that we’ve worked with do have a different story or a different vibe. I’m thinking of Worthy; they’re a lot about beer education, and the celestial bent in the observatory. Recycled wood and sustainability define Worthy. Silver Moon, on the other hand, is all about being the local pub, having a connection to the brewing that takes place. They used a lot of industrial-themed elements.

Q: Do you have a favorite beer?

A: I think Bend does IPA really well. I travel, and I try IPAs from around the country ,and they just don’t have what Bend IPAs have. As a nontraditional beer here locally, Wild Ride’s Nut Crusher (Peanut Butter Porter) is fantastic.

— Reporter: 541-617-7815,