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Autowerkes Maine

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Photo by Meredith Brockington

SHOP: Autowerkes Maine  LOCATION: Freeport, Maine  OWNER: Voit Ritch

1) The oversized steel canopy is one of the unique aesthetics Voit Ritch dreamed up when he built his new facility in 2012. Outfitted with 100,000 pounds of steel, the canopy serves as a covered parking area for customers to pick up their finished vehicles. Also, the canopy’s angle creates a parabolic curve, which blocks out the harsh sun during the summer months, but still allows ample natural light to enter the shop. Ritch wanted to create an architecturally striking building with 24-hour appeal, so the underside of the curve is painted white and illuminated with LED lights to make the building glow during the night.

2) The white Duro-Last roof is packed with R-40 insulation—one of the highest performing insulations—to create an energy-efficient facility. Though the roof was more expensive to install, the long-term benefits have been worth the initial cost; Ritch says the entire heating cost for the 14,000-square-foot facility is only $2,500 per year.

3) The floor-to-ceiling windows that look into the showroom and front office are made of solar glass with a grey tint, giving them a black appearance. The glass blocks UV rays, which has significantly cut down on air conditioning costs. “I’m paying all the bills,” Ritch says. “We plan to be here for a long time, so using quality materials means I don’t have maintenance costs.”

4) All of the exterior lighting on the building—including the signs, parking lot lights, and garage door lights—use LED bulbs. Power usage for the exterior is only a couple thousand watts. “For what it normally costs for one light, we light up our whole exterior of the building and the grounds,” Ritch says.

5) Ritch wanted to avoid the shop looking like a tire store, so he designed the building in an L-shape with three garage doors total. The layout is not only conducive to an efficient shop flow, but it also creates enough space to allow the cars to remain inside at all times, which is particularly helpful during Maine winters. A glass-paneled garage door faces south, which adds natural light to the shop floor.

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