Posts Tagged ‘wood windows’

Chicago 7

January 28, 2009

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Preservation Chicago released its “Chicago 7″ list of endangered Chicago landmarks on Monday, and one of them was very close to my heart – the “old-fashioned” wood window. I have often spoken about the virtues of old wood windows – made of stronger, straighter, better insulating wood, and how with a little caulk and a storm window they can outperform any vinyl replacement unit. You can scroll back through the old blogs – in November I reglazed one of my windows in my 110-year old house and marveled at a project that cost a couple hours and $20, versus the hundreds it would have cost if I broke a “modern” replacement window. I even had an installation in the “Department Store” with Felicity Rich this past fall featuring old wood windows surrounded by the barrage of advertising that has made replacement windows a force to be reckoned with in the last decade. The bottom line? People replace their windows because of the advertising, not because of any value in the new windows – or any failure of the old.
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They also listed one of Chicago’s beautiful churches, St. Boniface by the incomparable Henry Schlacks. This 1902 Kashubian parish at Noble and Chestnut was closed some years ago and neighborhood activists fought to prevent its demolition, so the Archdiocese apparently decided to wait until the building was falling apart. This is called “demolition by neglect” and is the ultimate passive-aggressive move. Often it is accompanied – as it is currently at the U of I campus re” Mumford House, with plaintive hand-wringing over a building’s deteriorated condition. Huh? You mean, you owned this building and allowed it to deteriorate and now you are complaining it is deteriorated?

Two on Preservation Chicago’s list are modernist and one of those – Meigs Field Terminal – got little support from local architecture critics, and likely the general public as well. The modernist gems on Landmarks Illinois’ last list in the fall scored embarassingly low on public opinion registers despite their high architectural pedigree, including Bertrand Goldberg’s stunning Prentice Women’s Hospital.

Getting popular support for the highly abstract visions of late 20th century Modernism is an ongoing challenge. Sometimes those buildings are a conservation challenge as well, because they were built in the era of thinner structures, single-glazing, and more ephemeral materials. Not like traditional wood windows.

Catching Up and Staying Warm

February 4, 2008



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Originally uploaded by vincusses.

Photo is copyright Felicity Rich, which explains its quality compared to most of the ones I post….

Okay, three weeks on the road plus the pressures of moving both our program studios and my home left me a little winded and even ill late last week so the blogs are a little behind, hence a few brief bits of catch-up:

All that air travel tempts one, despite good upbringing, to read airline magazines and one had a listing of wacky tourist attractions like the largest ball of twine and guess what – two Illinois sites which Landmarks Illinois has supported, were pictured! The Collinsville Ketchup bottle water tower, which we gave a grant to a while back, and the Berwyn Car Spindle, which is now threatened…

Preservation Chicago made news by putting Grant Park on their Chicago 7 list of endangered landmarks due to the threat of the Children’s Museum – perfectly echoing comments I made last fall about the same issue….

Lake Meadows tennis club by modernist Gertrude Kipnis demolished – Jack Spicer composed a fitting eulogy to another Mid-Century Modern loss…..

Blair Kamin in the Trib supporting efforts to save the great Gunners Mate Building at Great Lakes, bringing us to the interesting metaphysical problem of trying to save unique universals….

This is the 40th anniversary of the Chicago Landmarks Ordinance and many groups are scheduling events to celebrate it – CAF is doing an exhibit opening this Thursday curated by our alum Kate Keleman and including me in some fashion. More lectures and a Fall SAIC symposium to come….

Someone looks at my 1873 Italianate house and is wondering about replacing the windows. Dude! I got 2,300 square feet of frame house in one of Chicago’s snowiest and coldest winters. It has original windows plus triple track storms added sometime in the past. Monthly heating (and gas for range and hot water)? $167. Replace the windows and I will happily give you a dollar for every nickel you save on that bill, dude.

Some economist needs to calculate the payback on trees, because we planted a river birch next to our house a decade ago. It is now taller than the house and has knocked $20+ per month off of heating and cooling bills – why calculate the payback on replacement BUILDING PARTS? For the cost of a little water and pruning, this tree paid for itself in energy bills a hundred times already…..

I can’t think of any building part that can compete with that. Period. Full Stop.


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