Founding Farmers Restaurant




Washington, D.C.

Program LEED-certified/sustainable restaurant honoring the farmer’s perspective about the land, the earth and the community. 

Architecture & Interior Design Firm  CORE, Washington, D.C.

Architecture & Interior Design Team Peter F. Hapstak, Deborah L. Learner, Allison C. Cooke, and Christopher Peli 


When the North Dakota Farmers Union (NDFU), a cooperative of 40,000 farmers from its namesake state, set out to create a restaurant, they opted for a sophisticated tribute that melds modern and vintage agronomy.  The design pays homage to the American farmer while holding to the restaurant’s sustainable operations. The two-story, weathered framework is reminiscent of a typical farm structure, with wood beams, white-washed barnwood and a standing seam metal roof. It features a farmhouse at the entrance and silo-inspired dining booths.  It is the city’s first LEED-gold certified restaurant.




Specifying sustainable product in a restaurant environment proved challenging, requiring additional research.  Solutions include a unique water filtration system (and no bottled water for guests); 90 percent reclaimed materials; a kitchen waste, recycling and compost area; and recycling or diversion from landfills of more than 75 percent of construction waste during the project. Just under half of all materials were manufactured within 500 miles of Washington, D.C.




Eco-friendly lighting is a difficult to achieve in restaurant interiors. The designers used mini-halogens, low voltages, and LEDs for massive illumination. They added gels to LEDs to give them warmth.




The designers took the approach of deconstructing the whole idea of agriculture and food from a historic perspective.  They did not want the space to be too literal, so employed a series of metaphors to create a contemporary look with a farm-like sensibility. The wood floors resemble a patchwork quilt, how you would see farm fields from 30,000 feet. Textiles employ organic patterns; window boxes with wavy dried grasses separate tables; shelves of back-lit jars filled with fluorescent pickled vegetables remind diners of the restaurant’s farm-to-table philosophy.