Flexible Use Metal Buildings - from Breweries and Churches to Riding Arenas

Published September 18, 2017 by Whirlwind Team

An advantage to building with metal is its flexibility. Not literal flexibility, although metal does bend, but in the types of buildings you can design with it as well as the flexibility of the completed building itself.

Metal buildings are extremely well suited to the design-build process in which a single entity performs both design and construction of the building. Metal buildings provide endless options in size, shape, and use. They can be completely finished out, or they can remain a metal shell. It all depends on the owner’s needs.

What if your needs change? Your steel building can be moved, renovated, or rearranged to suit your new requirements. Steel is a versatile building material that can be used to create structures that provide no clue whatsoever that they are built of steel.

Steel also provides ample space for additional insulation, routes for wiring and plumbing, as well as room to install ductwork for the HVAC system.

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Let’s take a look at a few of the different types and styles of buildings that would be difficult to create with anything but steel.

Brewery steel buildings

metal brewery building

Your visions of a brewery may include lots of metal appliances but did you know that the best material for constructing the building itself is steel? With the rapid growth of craft brewing, you don’t want to be stuck with a long construction cycle before you can start your business. Building with a prefabricated metal building can shave weeks off construction time.

Once the foundation is complete, your building is put together like a giant erector set.

  • Everything you need to put the building together is included in the kit.
  • All bolt holes are pre-drilled.
  • All parts are designed to fit together.

Steel building manufacturers work with you to design your structure to suit your needs. With a brewery, you need open space for the vats, plenty of room for plumbing and piping, and an easy to clean area. If you also serve your beer, you also need a space for a bar and tables that look very little like the brewery floor.

A steel building is the only building material that provides durable, clear-span spaces that can still be segmented into smaller spaces. The interior finish can change from the utilitarian walls of the vat space to the more aesthetic look of the barroom. Externally, your building can be covered in stone or brick. You have endless color options for the wall and roof panels.

Your brewery can look like something that would fit into downtown Copenhagen or match the funky architecture of Deep Ellum in Dallas.

Metal churches

metal churches

Speaking of needing a lot of open space, a church has many of the same requirements as a theater.

  • Clear sight lines
  • Plenty of seating
  • Good acoustics
  • Comfortable environment

Many churches begin as multi-purpose buildings where the sanctuary can be reduced in half by a sliding wall. Other churches are designed from the bottom up with every type of space a church might need.

For example, many large churches have the main sanctuary for weekend services and large events while also providing a separate chapel area for daily services for a smaller audience and more intimate events. Besides those areas, most churches require classrooms, offices, and storage.

A steel building can provide the open span architecture for the sanctuary. There are no columns to block anyone’s view of the pulpit or stage. Other parts of the building can be separated into any size space you require from a large office for the head of the church to classrooms for religious education.

The entire building can be insulated to conserve energy so that heating and cooling such a large space won’t require such a large share of the tithes. Skylights and windows provide natural lighting and create a peaceful ambiance.

Metal horse barns and riding arenas

metal riding arena

Steel barns can be designed to look exactly like the big red barn at your grandfather's farm, or it can look like any other design if you like. The interior environment is easily controlled through proper heating, cooling, and ventilation, all of which can be installed at the time of construction.

  • Stalls, a tack area, and an area for hosing down the horses can be segmented with metal wall panels.
  • Hooks and other accessories provide places to hang equipment.
  • The floor should be designed with drainage in mind, and you should also have feed storage.

In fact, a steel barn is much better for feed storage than a wood barn; rats and mice can’t chew through metal. If you design carefully, there are fewer openings for pests to enter the barn.

The metal riding arena area again takes advantage of clear span construction, providing a wide open area for riding, jumping, and showing horses. Height is not an issue so a lunging pole that accommodates several horses can be installed if needed. To keep the environment inside the barn from being impacted by the open arena, insulation in the doors and walls can help keep the temperature steady.

If you need to expand for a larger herd or change the configuration of stalls, steel wall panels are easily removed and replaced. The building itself can be expanded via a new section added onto the end wall or a lean-to addition on the side.

Metal building homes

metal building homes

Most residential construction is built with a wood frame, but steel frame houses are becoming more popular due to their durability. The flexible design properties of steel are an advantage here as well. A steel frame home can be constructed in any shape or design to fit the neighborhood, or a custom home can be created that could include something other than four straight walls and a peaked roof.

  • Roof panels can be fabricated to look like traditional shingles, shake shingles, tile, slate, or simply left smooth.
  • You can have a roof of any color you like, and metal roofs are perfect for creating "cool roof" homes.
  • A white or light color reflects light and re-emits heat from the sun to help keep the house cool.
  • A metal roof, particularly a standing seam roof, is perfect for installing solar cells.

The wall panels can be covered with stone or brick facade or coated in any color you want. Insulation keeps the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Nobody would ever know that the house was made of metal.

The interior space is just as easily changed as any metal building and additions to the end wall to expand the square footage are easily installed. If you planned ahead and used a strong frame and foundation, you can add stories to your home. You can model after a Victorian or Tudor mansion if you like.


Steel is the most flexible, versatile, and durable building material you could ask for. It is resistant to fire, seismic activity, and pests. It can be made into a “green” building that looks like anything from an office tower to a house. Installation is fast and saves on labor, a plus for church and other non-profit organizations. Metal is low maintenance, making it a favorite on the farm or in the city.

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