As BRP celebrates our 40th anniversary this year, we are looking back to some of our past projects. This month in the time capsule we explore Springfield Brewing Company, which has been a staple in downtown Springfield, MO since 1997. But how did BrewCo, as it’s affectionally known by locals, come to be?
The Paul Mueller Company is a Springfield based leader in high-quality stainless-steel processing equipment and services. In the mid-1990s, Mueller identified microbreweries as an emerging market for the company. “At that time, Mueller fermentation tanks could be found in numerous breweries and wineries in the US and elsewhere, but a complete brewery system would be a relatively new venture – one that Mueller was prepared to undertake,” explains Tim Rosenbury, BRP Architect & Managing Partner.
Mueller purchased an old brick building located in an underutilized area of downtown Springfield. The building, constructed in 1910, was originally a farmer’s market and served as a wholesale grain and seed business for many years. The initial plan was to construct a pilot plant that would serve as a showroom of Mueller’s capabilities. As the business plan developed, a strong case was made for serving the beer in a pub atmosphere. The idea of a kitchen and dining venue was also added to the plan. With all these uses, an architect was needed, and after reviewing BRP’s experience in the adaptive re-use of buildings, Mueller selected BRP.
The project had several goals. The main goal was to design a space that would showcase their one of a kind stainless steel tanks for the brewery, while also keeping as much original character of the building as possible. “During the design of the project, our guiding objective was, ‘Sell more beer equipment, then more beer,’” says Tim, “The Springfield Brewing Company tells the story of how beer is made and served, and how Mueller’s equipment helps brewers do it best.” At the same time, BRP needed to design a space that created a friendly and engaging atmosphere for a restaurant.
Springfield Brewing Company Streetscape Drawing
When Mueller purchased it, the two-story building was occupied but was significantly under-utilized. The storefront façade was covered in metal panels, and much of the interior was used for storage. BRP was able to preserve the existing brick walls, wood framing and flooring. New wood windows were specified to match the original openings. Exterior masonry was cleaned and tuck-pointed where needed, and inside, brick walls that were plastered were exposed. Likewise, all ceilings were removed to expose the floor and roof structure. The rest of the interior was gutted, and a large opening between the two floors over the bar area was opened.
From the grain silo at the front of the building to the streamlined brewhouse, the brewing components and brewing process are front and center. BRP also highlighted Mueller stainless steel in a variety of unique ways. The steel was used “for handrails, bar top trim, bar rail, even the steel plates used to reinforce the original wood columns and built-up lumber beams,” says Tim.
Mueller stainless steel was used for handrails, bar top trim, bar rail, even the steel plates used to reinforce the original wood columns and built-up lumber beams.
Temperature and humidity control, health department regulations, as well as regulations governing commercial breweries require certain enclosures and separations. Glass was used wherever possible, and floodlights were aimed at the equipment. “It’s possible to ‘walk’ a tour group, a stainless steel prospect, or a beermaking enthusiast through the entire process while standing in a limited number of locations,” Tim explains.
BrewCo, has achieved venerability among Springfield’s dining and drinking establishments. With a large event space on the second floor, it’s a place for class reunions, post-game celebrations, charity events, and is a place to sit back, relax, and enjoy beer and food. In 2011, a group of investors purchased the building, the brewery and the restaurant businesses. The brand has since received a facelift and has expanded to produce and distribute more beer in the market. One of their best sellers, Paul’s Pale Ale, honors Mueller’s founder and his commitment to excellence.
Having just celebrated its 20th anniversary, “Springfield Brewing Company was, and still is, a catalyst for the redevelopment of the west end of downtown Springfield,” says Tim. Multi-use building rehabilitations and new structures with upper-floor loft apartments occupy three sides of the BrewCo. A large public parking garage, also designed by BRP, with first-floor retail space, is across the street. A coffee house, an art gallery, an independent art-house cinema, and creative companies occupy once vacant first floors in the area. A distillery and two other microbreweries have opened in the area, which is rapidly becoming known as The Brewery District.
Also in the March Newsletter: Celebrating Women’s History Month: BRP Women of Architecture Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & CVB Breaks Ground