18 JUN 16 | conceptual transformation

The Caterpillar Club

“Life Depends on a Silken Thread” and a good cocktail.

You may know about our adaptive reuse project called The Stanley Marketplace at the site of the former Stanley Aviation building, but I want to tell you about the conceptual design for a mid-century modern speakeasy inside the marketplace called The Caterpillar Club. For background information on the amazing Stanley adaptive reuse project please read our Stanley Candy blog and check out our website portfolio.

Caterpillar Club Rendering Picture # 13

View of The Caterpillar Club from inside the marketplace.


The historic Caterpillar Club was not a place, but an actual club created in 1922 by Leroy Irvin for people who survived a failing airplane by using a parachute in an emergency situation. It was called the Caterpillar Club because the parachutes were made from silk and the slogan became, “Life Depends on a Silken Thread”.

Since Bob Stanley invented the Yankee Escape Capsule many members of The Caterpillar Club sent Stanley Aviation letters of appreciation for saving their lives and Stanley also keep records of the ejections and the outcomes. 


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The Space

The majority of Stanley is two stories with the exception of a 2.5 level room surrounded by walkways, stairs, and a new elevator. This room was the former employee lounge where they could sit on bar stools and watch the planes land on the runway. 

Caterpillar club Stanley view

The view from the future event space to the former employee lounge. The lounge is outlined in red. 

 Caterpillar Stanley Exterior

The red door leads to an interior staircase that takes you up to the 1.5 level (perfect for a speak easy secret entrance). 

The Speakeasy

Everyone who entered the space thought it would make a great bar, so when a potential tenant approached Flightline (the masterminds behind Stanley Marketplace) to create a mid-century modern speakeasy in the space, we jumped at the chance to design it. Because of the unique and hard to see location, we knew the space had to be memorable. 

Caterpillar Club Rendering Picture # 8

Overall view of the mid-century modern speakeasy. The host stand is inspired by boomerang-shaped bars and I used decorative concrete block as a divider between spaces. 

Caterpillar Club Rendering Picture # 7

Rounded wood paneled and slatted walls soften the very square space and act as a sound dampening solution. Around the perimeter of the space, different living room style settings were created to accommodate intimate or large gatherings.

Caterpillar Club Rendering Picture # 11

The curved structure acts as a cove for one seating area and a raised stage for a more open setting. The edge of the structure turns into a bench for seating in either direction.

Caterpillar Club Rendering Picture # 15

Dining height and bar height tables offer opportunities for more density when busy and also a place that people can eat food purchased from the marketplace. The far wall by the back stairs has an image of someone being ejected from a plane.  The image is from the Stanley archives and the wall is glass so it lets filtered light in during the day.

Caterpillar Club Rendering Picture # 17

In the distance you can see the red hangar doors that are staple of the Stanley Aviation building. These doors will be restored for the future event space called The Hangar.  Low lounge style seating, reminiscent of old first class airplane lounges, provides a swanky area to sit and sip unique cocktails.   

The Logo

The potential tenant had another name concept for the bar, but due to our research into the Stanley Aviation history, we suggested calling the space “The Caterpillar Club” instead. . . and it stuck. 

To round out the vibe of the Caterpillar Club, Melissa created a logo that is steeped in the midcentury vibe and reinforced the essence of the space. Caterpillar-Club logo

The Future of The Caterpillar Club…

Unfortunately, not all great projects come to fruition. These designs will remain in our memories, but not in Stanley.  Check out our portfolio page


Kate Van Sluyter
18 June 2016