The design of an unbuilt building is something the Dallas chapter of the American Institute of Architects began honoring last year, recognizing that many inspired structures never make it beyond the conceptual stage.

One of the top winners this year is Munn Harris Architects‘ design of a brewery and tap room. They were commissioned by Oak Cliff Brewing — a startup whose unveiling will be at this Sunday’s Brew Riot — to “create a little oasis” at an “industrial, gritty” piece of land on Clarendon near the Dallas Zoo, Munn says. A large pecan tree they found on the otherwise nondescript site became their inspiration.

“It’s an exciting moment when we visit a site and there’s an element that points the direction for the project,” Harris says. “The tree did that for us. It jumped right out at us.”

Because of the high cost of brewing equipment, their goal was to create a low-cost home for the brewery.

“We knew going in it would be a minimal budget, and we love that challenge,” Harris says.

They incorporated pallets, often used in keg transportation, for the fence that would surround a seating area for customers. Their hope was to incorporate the brewery and the public areas so that visitors would feel “part of the process,” Munn says.

The jury of world-renowned architects appreciated the modest proposal and thought Munn Harris succeeded in showing what can be done without much.

“We’re trying to give good architecture to the masses,” Munn says. “You can have great design at any price point.”

This particular design will remain unbuilt because the real estate deal for the site fell through.

Munn Harris’ design was one of four winners chosen from more than 40 entries. View all of the entries at the Dallas AIA website.