Civilization/Terranova – 1511 NW 2nd Street Gainesville, Florida


photo cred - Lance Moore

As co-founder of meta-design:architecture, and continuing in my current practice, MW Bender Architecture, I have been directly involved in the design of manufacturing and/or retail locations for three businesses that engage in the manufacture or sale of sustainable goods. Civilization is one of these..


John Prosser, Civilization/Terranova

Peter Polshek, Building Owner

Design Problem

Civilization/Terranova is a cooperatively owned restaurant and catering business. They serve ethnic comfort foods from around the globe, buying local and organic as often as possible.

“…the Best Onion Rings in America”–James Stewart Polshek

Civilization took over the space formerly occupied by The 2nd Street Bakery. This renovation was completed by partners Mick Richmond and Stephen Bender of now defunct meta-design:architecture, llc.

Design Solution

Many cities have a stock of old industrial buildings that have been converted for other uses. Gainesville is not one of them. The building occupied by Civilization is one of very few. It is one of a pair of bow-string truss topped structures that sit along a rail corridor. Early this century, the buildings  served as a fuel depot for Gulf Oil. One of them is owned by repeat client, Peter Polshek. Civilization is his tenant. It is a rare pleasure to have a building owner and tenant with dispositions toward design.

While it is unfortunate that 2nd Street Bakery folded, Civilization/Terranova is a perfect fit for the space. For Civilization MWBa converted the two southern-most bays of the building from a bakery kitchen to a restaurant kitchen; including a commercial cooking line with the addition of a grease hood, prep area and plating area. The line is left somewhat visible through a window to the dining room. Terranova utilizes the remaining kitchen area. The previous bakery sales area and coffee house was simplified and adapted to become the new dining room. The restrooms and storage were designed into a cluster behind an undulating wall. This intervention was deliberately designed to be perceived as a distinct object in the space. The original space can be understood as the “ground”, upon which the new construction is a “figure”. The building history was contrasted with the undulating wall surface addressing the main space.

The goal was to create an interior space that will function well as a backdrop for serving great food.

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