Ann Arbor, MI
Completed 2013

Design Team

Craig Borum

Principals in Charge

Craig Borum, William Carpenter

Design Professionals SD/DD

Caileigh MacKellar


Joseph Fillipelli, Daniel Glick-Untermann,
Young-Tack Oh, Ian Donaldson,
Anna Schaefferkoetter, Andrew Wolking

Zola Bistro provides a fresh take on material expression as a second location for a much loved, downtown cafe, characterized by exposed 19th century brick bearing walls. The design approach is organized around a number of discrete, “service” elements that share a palette of materials combining raw, industrial steel with warm, American walnut details reflecting the bistro’s rust belt context. The proportionate use of these materials shifts across the components, including custom fabricated bar shelving, a banquette station and the entry screen/coat rack.

The original, cafe’s brick walls are reinterpreted as a wooden “brick” screen. This mortar-less wall undulates and calibrates to balance desired lighting and transparency levels. It produces a gradient of surface textures and provides a dynamic backdrop for the dining room. The final configuration of the wall, and varied spacing of the bricks, responds to the light photometrics and allows the wall to augment both front lighting during the day and back lighting at night.