Noah and Peter Bissell selected a highly unusual home base for their family business Bissell Brothers Brewing: a 100-year-old former railcar repair building that once served the Maine Central Railroad Company in Portland. The historical charm of the building’s architecture was perfectly suited to a new life as a taproom and brewery. However, it wasn’t without its challenges.
In its past life, the brewery was a maintenance depot in a train yard. Railway cars were stabled in the building via entrance and exit tracks. These enormous openings – literally, large enough to drive a train through – offer enviable natural light to the new taproom, but their size also posed four potential problems during the restoration.
- The cost of renovating the large area with construction materials would be prohibitively high.
- The integration of cost-effective standard windows would be impossible.
- Large swaths of glass, though affordable and attractive, would be vulnerable to high winds.
- There was also a potential for energy loss through expansive glass areas.
Bissell Brothers Brewing needed windows that could:
- affordably fill the enormous space left by the train doors,
- absorb sway and bending induced by wind,
- resist air and moisture infiltration,
- conserve energy, and
- maintain the unique historic appearance of the old depot.
The team at Kasson and Keller designed a system of mullion walls integrating aluminum frames and vinyl windows. By mulling together several smaller windows, we were able to fill the brick openings and create large, custom windows.
The aluminum extrusions used to mull the windows together are high in strength-to-weight ratio, making them ideal for reducing flex and adding rigidness to increase the performance of the vinyl windows being used in the spaces. Naturally, Kasson and Keller’s windows are built to withstand extreme Northeastern conditions and designed for energy efficiency.
Taken altogether, this means the Bissell Brothers can have their natural light, their historical appeal, and windows that will be around as long as they are.