Ready to Join the Big L Team?

Job Postings

Are you looking to further your career with a team of passionate and dedicated trade professionals? At Big L, teamwork really makes the dream work, so we’re always interested in meeting those individuals who can truly enhance the services we offer. If you think that person is you, then check out our current open positions below:

Installer – Windows & Doors

Installer – Windows & Doors

Job Description

Job Title: Installer – Windows & Doors
Department: Installation
Reports To: Norm McRobb
FLSA Status: Hourly


Our ideal installer is a person who can bring their energy, construction knowledge and professionalism to install all the brands we sell. Installers will prepare for installations, install windows and doors to manufacturers specifications or local building authority codes to meet and exceed the expectations of our customers. They will deal with projects of all sizes, budgets, and work with customers from all walks of life. Installers need to adapt to each project, find the best solutions to conditions and establish themselves as a professional when working in customers’ homes. Attention to detail, accountability, combined with problem solving skills and ability to work as a team will be keys to success in this position. We represent the entire Marvin windows line, Infinity by Marvin, Restorations by Sunrise, Mi Windows, ProVia and Thermatru by Benbilt doors.

Big L’s Mission Statement

Big L is dedicated to providing clear solutions to any window and door need in the residential and light commercial market.  We thrive on creating a connection with our customers and always seek to provide them with clarity, expertise, kindness, convenience, and professionalism. We live by the motto, “If it’s a window or door, our people care more!”

Big L’s Values

We are committed to providing a solid, safe and comfortable workspace with equal opportunity for learning and personal development.  Efficiency, innovation, professionalism, warmth, optimism, dedication, company spirit, independence and excellence are encouraged for improving the effectiveness of Big L Windows and Doors.

Employees will be bestowed the same level of warmth, kindness, professionalism and optimism within the company that they are asked to pledge outside the company.

Essential Functions

  • Installation of windows & doors per manufacturer specifications
  • Complete interior and exterior trim work
  • Loading of materials and pre-installation preparation
  • Breakdown and cleaning of worksite areas
  • Develop good customer relations and maintain high level of service
  • Perform installation and apply methods determined by lead installer
  • Clean and organize trucks daily
  • Perform the required amount of work in the prescribed period of time
  • Assist others when necessary (fellow employees and customers)
  • Communicate well throughout organization
  • Bring an energy and passion to helping customers
  • Take pride in your work and “do the right thing for our customers”

Other Job Duties

  • Other tasks as assigned by management.

Requirements / Qualifications

  • Drivers license and transportation
  • Hand tools needed to install windows and doors
Pay Rate: Hourly.  Please inquire – dependent on experience level
Norm McRobb – Installation Manager
Send Resumes to:
Ph: 716-362-2458

How To Install An Entry Door

Entry Door Installation

There a number of reasons you might consider installing an entry door in your home. Perhaps your current door looks worn out or has become difficult to operate. Maybe it is not energy efficient or even sound-proof. Perhaps you are simply looking for a change and a new entry door installation could be your answer!

We all want a beautiful home we can feel confident about. Since exterior doors are such a visible feature of every home, they play a major role in their overall design. After all, front doors set the tone for arriving guests and neighbors strolling by. This makes updating your front door an easy way to give your home a facelift.

Replacing an exterior door can be an exciting time for a homeowner. Yet regardless of your reason, all home improvement projects require some lead time and preparation in order to be successful. Installing a replacement door is no exception to this rule.

So before you head to a dealer to start scheduling your exterior door installation, consider completing the following tasks.

Determine Your Goals

Just like windows, cabinets and other features in the home, exterior doors are available in a variety of styles and materials. Fortunately, this means you can usually find a product that matches your home’s aesthetic and aligns with your personal style. However, it also means that some extra steps are involved in the replacement process.

Unlike the elements mentioned above, your front door is the first thing people notice about your home. As a design feature, it’s an opportunity to leave a lasting impression. However, it also plays a vital role in your home’s energy efficiency and security. Finding balance between these two functions is every homeowner’s challenge.

This in mind, it is important to decide what is most important to you before purchasing a new door. Truthfully, the best material for any home depends on its homeowners’ style, climate and budget. So in order to select the right materials for your home, you’ll have to decide what you want.

Before beginning your entry door installation, ask yourself: What do I want to accomplish with this project? Determine your top priorities and try to envision your best case scenario. Not only will this help inform your hardware selection, but it may end up keeping your entire project on track.

Pick Your Door

Naturally, there are unique advantages and shortcomings in every exterior door option. Some materials are stronger than others; some are cheaper or require less maintenance. Some shapes make more of a statement but will require structural changes to your home. The trade-offs are constant.

In reality, there is no rule of thumb to blindly follow when shopping for new exterior doors. So before installing replacement exterior door, it’s important to learn about every available option. Below, we break down some of the most popular options.


Praised for its beauty, wood is perhaps the most popular option for replacement exterior doors. It’s available in a number of eye-catching natural finishes — such as oak, mahogany and more. However, be warned: wood doors are also some of the most expensive on the market. Plus, like wood windows, they tend to require frequent maintenance.

Since shopping for wood doors tends to be expensive, many brands offer composite alternatives. These options wrap wooden cores in other materials — such as fiberglass. As a result, they tend to resist warping more effectively than pure wood.


Fiberglass doors are both durable and low maintenance, making them a smart choice for homeowners in harsh climates. While they may not feel as traditional as a wooden front door, they are usually more affordable. Plus, many brands use fiberglass to mimic wood-grain texturing — So their doors look like wood but are cheaper and tougher. Talk about a win-win.

Pick Your Brand

As we mentioned above, there is no rule of thumb for picking the perfect entry door. There are hundreds of styles and combinations to choose from, each of which plays a different role within the home. So, it’s important to select a product that aligns with your expectations.

Yet there is one thing that rings true for all homeowners. When you install a new exterior door, you expect it to last. Nobody wants to invest in a project that will end up costing them more time and money down the line. This in mind, we believe durability is the most valuable trait a replacement door can have.

That’s where picking the right door manufacturer becomes important. Much like materials, there are different advantages and sacrifices that come with every brand. Not every wood door is beautiful, and not every fiberglass door performs.

Fortunately, Therma Tru doors do both. Their Classic-Craft American Style collection offers the look, feel and sound of authentic wood doors without compromising performance. Extraordinary in every detail, all fiberglass used in the Therma Tru American Style collection blends timeless looks with modern design. The result is an entry that will maintain its beauty and performance for years to come.

At Big L, we proudly stock a variety of high-quality entry doors — including the Classic-Craft American Style collection.

Get Started

Once you have narrowed down your options and decided on a material, it’s finally time to get started. But keep in mind — A quality entry door installation is extremely important to the success of your home improvement project. So unless you are experienced, avoid treating this as a DIY project.

At Big L, we proudly offer professional entry door installation at reasonable prices. Our licensed, insured staff can make sure your new windows are installed in accordance with their manufacturers’ recommendations.

3 Reasons To Choose Infinity Replacement Windows

Infinity Replacement Windows

Selecting the right windows for your home can feel like a daunting process. We’re here to tell you why choosing Infinity replacement windows may be the right choice for your next window installation project.

After all, we all want a beautiful home that we can feel confident about. Since windows are such a prominent feature of every home, we naturally want to find the best ones. But with dozens of materials, shapes and styles to choose from, the options for windows can quickly become overwhelming. That’s where we come in.

Most people do not ordinarily follow the latest trends in window manufacturing. In fact, some do not even know what type of windows are in their home. Many have never thought about it until they are standing in our showroom.

That’s okay: At Big L, we take pride in helping customers learn more about their homes. So if you’re thinking about new windows but unsure where to begin, our professional staff can help guide you in the right direction.

Of course, when shopping for new windows, there is no rule of thumb to blindly follow. Truthfully, the best product for any home depends on its homeowners’ tastes, climate and budget. So rather than offer definitive answers, we help you narrow down your pool of options to only the strongest, most reliable brands. It is an important step in the window selection process.

Among those top brands is Marvin Infinity replacement windows. At Big L, we not only house a variety of Infinity products, but we proudly recommend them to customers constantly.

For homeowners seeking beautiful, high quality products that perform, Infinity by Marvin is an easy solution. This in mind, keep reading to learn about the benefits of Infinity: 


Fiberglass Lasts Longer


Durability is perhaps the most valuable trait a replacement window can have. After all, nobody wants to invest in a home improvement project that will end up costing them more time and money down the line. So when you install new windows in your home, you expect them to maintain their beauty and quality for many years to come.

Fortunately, Infinity windows are some of the strongest on the market. They are made with Ultrex — Marvin’s patented, pultruded fiberglass material. So unlike vinyl windows, they do not warp or lose shape; unlike wood windows, they do not rot or require constant maintenance. Instead, Infinity replacement windows deliver a tight, snug fit that will keep your home comfortable and secure for years to come.

In general, fiberglass is a reliable materials capable of supporting surprising amounts of weight. This is one of the reasons it’s the material of choice for building boats, bridges and hardhats. However, when it comes to strength and durability, Marvin’s Ultrex fiberglass is nearly unbeatable.

In fact, compared to other materials, Ultrex is the strongest window material in the entire replacement industry. It’s eight times stronger than vinyl, and resists expanding and contracting in any climate.

This unique strength make Marvin Infinity windows the natural option for anyone who’s already committed to fiberglass windows.


Infinity Windows Look Great


Of course, there is no use in having long-lasting windows if they do not look good. Infinity does not have that problem. Another reason we stand by Infinity windows — and perhaps their most obvious benefit — is that they simply look great.

The innate strength of Infinity replacement windows allows for distinct, non-intrusive designs that are impossible to achieve with other materials. For example, Ultrex fiberglass delivers narrow window profiles that offer expanded views of the outdoors, additional sunlight and a deeper connection to nature.

As for color, Ultrex uses an acrylic finish that is fade-resistant and virtually maintenance free. This finish is 3 times thicker than other options, so it also resists chipping, denting and peeling.

When you install Infinity replacement windows in your home, you not only get one of the strongest windows on the market, but you also get a beautiful product that will last.


Infinity Replacement Windows Are Customizable


Your home should always reflect your personal style and taste. That’s why Infinity offers a complete spectrum of styles, colors and features. So you can customize your new windows and doors to get the exact look you want.

Infinity windows by Marvin are available in almost a dozen unique styles, including traditional shapes such as double hung windows and bay windows, as well as special, custom-built shapes. Plus, each window comes complete with a fade-resistant acrylic finish. You can choose between a variety of colors and shades — from stone white to cashmere, ebony and bronze — depending on the style of your home.

So regardless of your home’s needs or your personal style, Infinity replacement windows can match your aesthetic and fit into your life.


The Marvin Difference


As mentioned earlier, no single window is right for every home or homeowner. However, when asked to recommend a window company with products as beautiful as they are reliable, we always mention Marvin.

For over 100 years, Marvin has designed products with people in mind at every step. So, their windows and doors are truly inspired by how you live. Each Marvin window is intentionally designed to fit your unique needs and style. Plus, they follow a simple, convenient replacement process that makes sense for you.

Most importantly, Marvin lives by its commitment to do the right thing, think differently and raise the bar wherever possible. Not only can Marvin help alleviate your replacement concerns, but they can help establish a sense of comfort and security in your home.


Getting Started


Big L is proud to be your local, independent Marvin retailer. Not only do we honor Marvin’s commitment to delivering high-quality products and services, but we cultivate experiences that help people live better.

Who you choose to install your new windows or doors is key to ensuring your desired outcome – a beautiful look for your home, inside and out. So no matter how far into the replacement process you are, our expert staff can provide you with helpful advice and personalized service to create rooms that reflect your style.

Our goal is to take you through the entire installation process before we get started, so you feel comfortable and confident that your new windows and doors will not only look amazing, but that your home will be treated with the utmost respect.

Discover the difference with Big L today.

Be sure to check out every type of window product we offer for Infinity here and contact us at Big L Windows & Door today!

All About Patio Door Replacement

Patio doors are one of the most important, yet understated, features of any home. If you are looking for ways to improve access to your backyard or balcony or if you want to allow for more natural light within your home, patio door replacement maybe the answer you’re looking for. They can open up a closed space and create beautiful views that help you feel more connected to nature.

Since patio doors play so many different roles within the home, their condition can be critical to any home’s overall performance. Considering today’s patio doors are more secure, more weather-resistant, and have more energy efficiency than ever, it’s important to have the info you need for your next patio door replacement and door replacement project!

Like other utilities, we recommend checking up on your patio doors every few months and assessing them for damage. Occasionally, you may even need to replace them.

With so many choices when it comes to patio door styles and materials, we made this guide to help you make the right decision for your home.

When to replace?

While the need for a patio door replacement may not always be obvious, if ignored, it can be seriously detrimental to the overall performance of a home.

There are a number of ways to judge when it is time to replace a patio door. So, if you notice any of the warning signs below, it may be time to shop for a door replacement.

1.  They are difficult to operate

Trouble opening or closing a patio door is one of the most obvious signals that it may be time for a replacement. If you’re experiencing such trouble, especially with a sliding patio door, it’s possible that the door has become misaligned from the track.

Not only is this problem tedious for homeowners, but it’s a major safety hazard in case of a fire or other emergency. So be sure to look into a solution.

2.  They are not energy efficient

Historically, patio doors were notorious for air leakage. Though recent changes in manufacturing have led to vast improvements, you should still be aware and constantly assess doors for drafts.

If the areas surrounding your patio doors feel cooler than the rest of your house, it’s possible that your doors have drafts. Not only are these uncomfortable for members of the household, but fixing these can be expensive, wasting costly energy while spiking up cooling and heating bills year-round.

According to, windows contribute to about 30% of a typical home’s heating losses. So regardless of their age, you can improve your home’s comfort and lower your energy bills by sealing air leaks or repairing your windows.

3.  They look damaged

Even high quality patio doors will naturally deteriorate over time, since they’re constantly being exposed to various elements – from frigid temperatures to powerful, UV rays. In the most extreme cases, you may even notice gaps developing between the door and its frame.

If you notice gaps, rot, mold or other signs of warping, it’s time to consider replacement.

4.  You are preparing to sell

Another common reason to replace patio doors is to boost the overall look of your home. Whether you are simply remodeling pleasure or are looking to sell your home in the near future, a new sliding glass door or a pair of French doors can add significant curb appeal to your home.

What to consider when shopping for patio doors?

Once you determine whether or not your home is ready for new patio doors, there are additional factors to consider.

There are two primary types of replacement patio doors: French doors and sliding patio doors. So, when you set out to select replacement patio doors for your home, the main question you will have to answer is which of these types is right for you.

Here, we walk you through the definitive traits of each door styles to help you make an appropriate decision.

     French Doors

French patio doors (also known as hinged doors) are, as the nickname suggests, attached by hinges and able to swing in or out. These doors typically consist of one or more glass door panels and are best known for their classic, elegant sightlines

French doors are ideal in areas prone to high winds, since the harder the wind blows against them, the tighter the seal they make when pressed against the jamb.

     Sliding Patio Doors

On the other hand, sliding patio doors (also known as gliding doors or sliding glass doors) require less space and offer straight, simple lines that offer a more contemporary look.

These doors maximize natural light and outdoor views to create a deeper connection to nature. They also facilitate greater ventilation through the room, since they do not require extra space for the door to swing in or out.

Which replacement patio doors are right for me?

Of course, there is no definitive answer as to which style is best: The right replacement patio door for any home depends on the space available and the amount of ventilation desired.

So now that you know the differences between French doors and sliding glass patio doors, try to identify your priorities.

Think about the climate you live in year-round, your budget and your long-term goals. Only then can you make the most appropriate decision!

At Big L, we proudly stock a full selection of replacement patio doors in a variety of shapes, styles and materials. Ready to get started? We are here to help!

Bay Windows Vs Bow Windows

Bay windows vs bow windows, which are better? There are many reasons to consider upgrading your home to include a new set of projection windows or replacement bay windows. Perhaps you are looking to expand your view or let in extra sunlight. Maybe you are simply looking to increase your room’s living space.

Regardless of your reasoning, projection windows — such as bow windows or bay windows — can be an elegant addition to any home. Not only do they help connect you to nature by blending indoor and outdoor spaces, but they also brighten your home with natural light and boost its overall curb appeal.

When shopping for projection windows or replacement bay windows, there are a number of different styles to consider. So, if you’re just beginning to research your options, you will probably have some questions.

For starters, the two most popular styles of projection windows are bow windows and bay windows. Naturally, the two share a few similarities (such as protruding from the wall to open up space). However, understanding the difference between them will help you make a more informed decision.

So, keep reading to learn the differences between bay windows vs bow windows!

Bay Windows

A bay window is a combination of three or more panels set at angles, so the centerpiece is always the widest. Usually, this centerpiece is a picture window, so it’s stationary and only exists to offer an elegant view.

Bay windows also include casement or double hung windows on their sides. Unlike picture windows, double hung windows include two operating sashes that can slide up and down. This allows bay windows to open, providing ventilation and airflow to the home.

Unlike other projection styles, replacement bay windows can be fully operational. This in mind, they are a great choice for those looking for projection windows that can maximize airflow and ventilation.

Bow Windows

On the other hand, bow windows are wider and more intricate. Usually made up of four to six panels set side by side, they curve to create a rounded appearance from the outside.

Like bay windows, bow windows also protrude from the home to open up living space. However, they are usually wider and more angled, making this protrusion less steep. You should still be able to design an elegant nook and relax by the window. But if you’re looking to maximize space at the window, replacement bow windows are not the best choice.

On the bright side (literally), the wider panels featured in bow windows open up more space for natural light. This leads to a broader view and a deeper connection to nature, but also lessens the possibilities for increased living space within the home.

Finally, unlike bay windows, most bow windows are not operational. This means they cannot be opened or closed to allow fresh air into the home. This in mind, bow windows are not a great choice for those looking to open their windows or increase ventilation.


So, what is the final verdict? Bay windows vs bow windows, which is better? Who is the winner?

Truthfully, the right projection window for any home depends on its homeowners’ priorities. Though replacement bay windows and replacement bow windows share a few similarities (such as protruding from the wall and opening up space within your home), they can also deliver distinctly different perks to your home. 

Bay windows are a great choice for those looking to open their windows and increase airflow in the home. On the other hand, bow windows are a solid choice for those looking to maximize their windows’ expansive view.

It is important to understand these differences before making a decision. To help simplify these features, we’ve included a brief summary below.

Bay Windows:

  • 3 panels
  • Angled curve
  • Can be operational
  • More protruded than Bow Windows

Bow Windows:

  • 4-6 panels
  • Rounded curve
  • Non-operational
  • Wide, expansive view
  • Less protruded than Bay Windows

How To Find A Window Installer

There are a number of reasons you might be considering replacement windows for your home.


Perhaps they look worn out or have become difficult to operate. Maybe they are not energy efficient or even sound-proof.


Regardless of the reason, all replacement window projects require professional support. In fact, who you choose to install your new windows is key to ensuring your desired outcome – a beautiful look for your home, inside and out.


If installed improperly, even high quality windows will not look as good as they should. They may even end up using more energy, rather than less.


So, if you are preparing for a home improvement project, start by searching for the best window installation company in the area.


Keep reading to learn which traits the best window installers should have.


What To Look For

Clear Expectations

A professional installer should walk you through every aspect of the installation process beforehand, so nothing ends up being a surprise. You want the home improvement process to go smoothly, from start to finish – no hidden costs, no hassles, no problems.

For the smoothest process, it is best if each new window is installed immediately after the old one is removed. Avoid using a contractor who removes all the old windows first, then installs the new windows. Otherwise, you risk spending time with a boarded-up hole, awaiting the right windows.

At Big L, our process begins with a free in-home consultation, during which we measure the exact parameters of your home and develop an accurate quote. Then, we schedule a time for installation that is convenient for you. Customers are never in the dark.

Our goal is to ensure that you feel comfortable and confident that your new windows will not only look amazing, but that your home will be treated with the utmost respect.

Guaranteed Satisfaction

Many national window brands recommend using installers who have been specifically trained and certified to work with their products. So, using the same contractor for purchase and installation can avoid finger-pointing if problems occur later.

If you do have a local dealer install the replacement windows you buy from them, find out how complaints are responded to. The dealer should always be willing to help resolve problems until you are totally satis­fied.

At Big L, we proudly offer our unique Total Trust Guarantee. It’s an exclusive suite of warranties that cover both the products we sell, as well as the installation services we provide.

By selling only high quality windows, and using our installation professionals who have over 200 years of combined experience serving Buffalo, NY, the Big L Total Trust Guarantee is our promise that you’ll be completely satisfied when your job is complete (and for many years to come).

Social Proof

When it comes to hiring a professional for your home improvement project, you never want to be a company’s test dummy. Look for window installers who have positive customer reviews, ideally dating back a few years.

While not all customer reviews are one-hundred percent accurate, they do help offer a general gist of window installers’ credibility. Don’t let one or two customers’ bad experiences discourage you from working with a dealer that makes you feel comfortable. However, be weary of any window installer who has only negative feedback online.

At Big L, we take great pride in each and every review left by our customers. The videos testimonials page on our website puts these reviews on full display. Plus, we offer a referral program that allows any one of our satisfied customers throughout Buffalo, NY to benefit from their positive feedback.


Put simply: If your home improvement project involves replacement windows, make sure you are working with a high quality window installer.

If installed improperly, even the best windows on the market can end up looking or performing poorly.

So, when preparing for your next window replacement, look for window installers who:

  • Set clear expectations of what the process will entail
  • Guarantee your satisfaction with both the products and the installation
  • Have positive feedback from previous customers easily-accessible online

Ready to get started?

If you’re already thinking about new windows and you’re located in the greater Buffalo, NY area, then consider your hunt for the best window installer over.


Click here to schedule a free appointment with one of our window and door professionals today.

Best Insulated Windows for Home

Benefits of Insulated Windows

One of the most important traits of any modern replacement windows are their ability to insulate airflow within the home. The question becomes, who has the best insulated windows for home?

The best insulated windows for home are crafted by Marvin Windows and they can bring a number of benefits to your homes, especially since they’re specifically designed to stop valuable air from escaping through cracks and crevices.

So, are you asking, should I replace my windows? Simply put, replacement windows means less heat will get wasted during those brutal Buffalo winters, and during warmer months, the load on your air conditioner will also be significantly lessened. In the bigger picture, it could mean lower utility bills and greater peace of mind.

Keep reading to learn how window insulation can benefit your homes and who has the best insulated windows for home!


1.   Energy efficiency

Most energy efficient windows are insulated by design. By incubating heat and cool air within the home, energy efficient windows help reduce overall energy usage by keeping your home close to the desired temperature (and keeping your fingers away from the thermostat). That means lower utility bills and a smaller carbon footprint, so you can save money while also lessening your impact on the environment. All thanks to window insulation. Sound like a win-win?

2.   Noise reduction

Aside from being energy efficient, insulated windows also reduce sound-bleeding and prevent outside noises from seeping into your home. Whether they are double or triple-paned, the air between glass panes doesn’t allow as much noise to pass through as regular replacement windows. So, you can stop listening to your neighbors bickering and start enjoying some peace and quiet.

3.   Increased safety

The best insulated windows usually feature double or triple- panes of glass. That means extra layers of glass, which don’t just increase window insulation — They also make the windows tougher and more difficult to break. As a result, you can expect an increase in the overall safety and security of your home. Multiple panes are both harder to break into for intruders and more capable of withstanding damage than regular, single pane replacement windows.

Buyers Want Worthy Windows

Homebuyers know what they want… And they’ll wait for it.

Since buying a home is a long-term commitment, new-home buyers do not want to compromise on their future property. Instead, they’ll hold out until a dream home presents itself.

According to a recent study by John Burns Real Estate Consulting, the most common obstacle faced by shoppers is an inability to find what they’re looking for. Of more than 21,000 potential homebuyers questioned, 46% said they were unable to find a home that meets their desires. In almost all cases, this leads to delays in their settling down.

But what exactly do those dream homes entail? Apparently, it may have something to do with windows.

The same study also asked participants to rank the most important home features affecting their decisions. Surprisingly enough, price of the home was not the primary deal-breaker.

In fact, more than half the future homebuyers consider the design of the home to be more persuasive than its price-point. Energy savings and functionality also ranked among their top concerns.

But are these features realistic?

We think so.

Read below to see how a worthy window can address homebuyers’ deepest desires.

Design of the Home

       Since windows are such a major component of your home’s overall look and feel, they can make a world of difference when it comes to design. The right style window will complement any home exterior and effortlessly increase its curb appeal.

Energy Savings

       Approximately one-third of all heat that escapes from a home travels through windows and doors, according to the NRDC. This can have dire consequences on your heating bill, effectively wasting heat produced by your furnace (and the cool air generated by air conditioners in the summer). Upgrading to a modern, more energy efficient window is an obvious solution. If properly installed, new windows can reduce energy bills by 10% to 25%.


     Windows serve a variety of important roles within the home: They let in natural light, incubate heat or cool air, defend against trespassers, and open up ordinary rooms to the world. So when it comes to the overall functionality of a home, an easy-to-operate window can be a make-or-break element.


Union Stables Case Study

Built in 1909, the 63,768-square-foot, four-story heavy-timber and masonry building stood silent for decades, tantalizing Ed Weinstein, FAIA, with a wealth of adaptive reuse possibilities to revive this landmark near Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Over the years, the building had served as a parking garage, auto body shop, and furniture warehouse. Today Union Stables shines as a Class A office center and treasured Seattle landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

35-Year Dream

Weinstein’s initial contact with Union Stables goes back to the early 1980s. Early in his career, Weinstein worked in an office just across the street from the aging stables.

“On a number of occasions the Union Stables owner had me look at different options for the building, including office and multifamily housing.” Then, after three decades of false starts, the stars aligned in 2013 for the long-awaited restoration. “A well-regarded construction company was looking for a new home. They purchased a 50 percent interest in Union Stables, with a plan to renovate it as their headquarters. At that point, we committed to become a tenant and design the facility,” Weinstein says.

Aesthetic Preservation

Weinstein heads Weinstein A+U, a Seattle-based 35-person regional architectural firm that works on “a broad cross-section of project types,” including retail, office, public-sector work, mixed-use, and multifamily. The firm has won about 70 design awards from the American Institute of Architects.

The reinvention of the stables called for a seismic retrofit, façade restoration, new HVAC and plumbing systems, and the addition of a fifth-floor penthouse. Every effort was made to maintain the building’s character, such as preserving the heavy timber columns (right down to the gnaw marks left by restless horses).

Careful Selection

As for the windows, that renovation decision to restore, replace, or replicate was easy: They didn’t exist. The windows had been removed about 25 years earlier and replaced with plywood painted to resemble a window, Weinstein reports. To balance the demands of the local landmark preservation board and the U.S. Department of Interior with the project’s budget and aesthetic, Weinstein turned to Marvin aluminum clad windows. “We replaced them with Marvin windows that were close in pattern and profile to what we could determine from old photographs,” he says. With Marvin, Weinstein was able to specify standard size windows while satisfying the need for accurate historic detail, without having to build fully custom.

“The sash and profiles were absolutely perfect,” he says, praising the new windows.

Economy with Accuracy

Marvin was ideal, Weinstein says. “They were simple and direct,” he observes. “We wanted to abstract the divided lite windows that were here before. The new windows are a single large panel of glass with a spacer bar in the cavity and muntin bars affixed on the inside and outside to match the original pattern. We achieve economy with aesthetic accuracy.”

What’s more, he says, “their energy performance met our criteria very well” – so much so, that they helped Union Stables earn LEED Gold certification from the USGBC. The reborn Union Stables delivered in early 2015 was greeted with wide acclaim. Among several distinctions, it won the 2015 Washington state NAIOP Redevelopment/Renovation of the Year Award.

Vision Fulfilled

Weinstein’s persistence of vision yielded an especially sweet reward. “I’m now sitting in my chair, looking out at my old office from 35 years ago. It feels just like yesterday. I’m gratified the firm has grown and stayed in the neighborhood. It’s wonderful to be in a building with a charismatic architectural character and premier office amenities.”

Originally published in Architect Magazine.