The Magic of Magnus on Water

A Biddeford bar seeks to create the ultimate sense of place

“There were a number of elements that inspired the team behind Magnus on Water. A big emphasis for the design process was the natural landscape of southern Maine; the bounty of fresh, available ingredients; and the convergence of family traditions, immigrants, and histories that built the city of Biddeford. The owners really care about Biddeford, so it was important that depth and meaning for the locals were present. The idea of alchemy, turning something that’s elemental into something refined, was also at the heart of the project.

“Our design focus was the landscape of Maine and the historical context of Biddeford as a city built by immigrants. The palette came from materials surrounding the location. We incorporated wood, leather, and anything with natural dyes. We used recycled wood on the ceiling, and there are a handful of strips that are darker than the rest; this was a nod to the building next door that had burned down in the 1970s. There’s also a heritage wall lined with old photographs from each owners’ family that honors the immigrants who built Biddeford as we know it today, and embodies the diverse nature of the team who built Magnus on Water. One of the coolest things about the space is the bar top: It’s two pieces of live-edge walnut that were filled with epoxy and underlit by Higgins Fabrication. It gives off this unbelievable glow and just has a really magical quality to it.

“Magnus on Water feels really mysterious and special from the outside, and when you step inside, the bar and interior take over and completely shape your experience. It was a fun project and a hell of a team, working with Warren Construction and Richardson and Associates to make it all happen. You can’t come up with something so rich and interesting without the right team. When you walk in, it just feels otherworldly.”
—Phil Kaplan, principal at Kaplan Thompson Architects

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