Building Envelope

Climate Change Mitigation

Visitors enjoying the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park in downtown Chicago. (Photo: fotoluminate)

Visitors enjoying the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park in downtown Chicago. (Photo: fotoluminate)

The high temperatures of recent days has, for some, brought back memories of the deadly July 1995 heat wave in Chicago that killed more than 700 people. While our recent high temperatures don’t come close to breaking records, it should prompt another conversation about our changing climate and our industry’s response to mitigating the impact of a warming planet. In recent weeks, the Royal Institute of British Architects made news by declaring a state of climate emergency.

Last December, 2018 AIA President Carl Elefante, FAIA issued an open letter detailing the AIA's stance on climate change mitigation, steps the Institute has taken to confront the issue, and how architects can get involved. Here is an excerpt from that letter:

Climate change and the heightened severity of weather events will cause increased loss of human life, more frequent crop failure, and more displaced people. This will destabilize governments, increase the risk of conflict, and hurt the global economy…The science is irrefutable.

The building sector accounts for roughly 40 percent of current global greenhouse gas emissions. By achieving significant emissions reduction in our own sector of the economy, we can contribute a large portion of the solution.

As architects, we have unique skills to explain the challenge to a wide audience, and the design knowledge to find more ways to reduce building emissions. We are equal to the task. But we must not wait.

Buildings are major producers of carbon, so climate change poses both major obstacles and opportunities for architects around the world. I am proud to be a part of an industry that is taking a stand. You can read the entire call to action here.

The Impact of Chicago's Weather

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As the summer winds down, I thought I’d share a few images from the work we’re doing on Jefferson Tower at 200 N. Jefferson in the Fulton River District. The project is a reminder of weather's cumulative impact on urban buildings.

As the AIA shares on their website: "Designing and building resilient buildings is not a choice, it’s an imperative." As temperatures and weather become more extreme, regular building envelope evaluation, repair and preservation become key to maintaining that resiliance.

Original construction of the high-rise condominium began in 2004 and was completed in 2006. After a dozen years of exposure to atmospheric carbon dioxide and Chicago’s climate – with its extreme temperatures and wind-driven rain, sleet and snow – the exterior today requires comprehensive repair and maintenance.

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While concrete is highly durable, it still has properties that make the development of cracks inevitable - even in the best weather conditions. The structure has 24 stories and 198 separate units. The scope of the Jefferson Tower project includes: concrete repairs, crack repairs, sealant replacement, exterior coating, and balcony waterproofing replacement. Watch my Twitter feed for project updates.

BTLA's Work Recognized By Design Evanston

BTL Architect principal Delph Gustitus (pictured left) with Northwestern University's Manager of Construction Projects, Dick Painter (pictured right) at Design Evanston's 2017 Awards Ceremony, November 2, 2017.

BTL Architect principal Delph Gustitus (pictured left) with Northwestern University's Manager of Construction Projects, Dick Painter (pictured right) at Design Evanston's 2017 Awards Ceremony, November 2, 2017.

Last week, BTL Architects was recognized by Design Evanston at an awards ceremony for our work to restore 720 University Place at Northwestern University. Design Evanston is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit advocacy organization promoting good design in Evanston, Illinois. Annually they recognize professionals and projects that exemplify good design. Here is an excerpt from the awards program detail:

This project involved the restoration of the building enclosure. The building was built in the 1890’s, originally as a school of music with a performance hall. Years of deferred maintenance and atmospheric soiling had taken its toll on the exterior. The Owner stated a goal of restoring the exterior to its original condition as closely as possible. A detailed examination and assessment of the exterior was performed to determine the scope of repairs. The 12,000 square feet of exterior wall surface includes two brick colors and sizes, cut limestone sills, painted wood windows and trim, a rough-cut structural stone masonry base, clay tile roof, and copper downspouts.

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A combination of historic masonry techniques, reclaimed materials, and more modern materials and methods were used to restore the exterior to its original splendor. All masonry was cleaned with products and methods selected during extensive sampling. Old mortars were removed by mechanical wet grinding. Three different new mortars colors were used with an historic beaded joint profile. Deteriorated wood components were replaced with reclaimed old growth lumber fashioned in profiles to match the original components. High performance paint products were used in colors selected to match the historic appearance from historic photos.

More images of this project are included in our portfolio. For a full listing of Design Evanston's 2017 honorees, click here.