Four Buildings Demonstrate the Tangible Benefits of Executing Window Retrofits

Hillshire Brands' headquarters after its window retrofit.Hillshire Brands' headquarters after its window retrofit. PHOTO: RRGPhotographydotcom

Windows can be among the most striking components of a building. They let daylight in, allow occupants to view the great outdoors and, aesthetically, give a building a sense of lightness. Conversely, having only a few windows can make a building seem cold and uninviting. Beyond the visual impact windows provide, they often dictate how efficient a building is. The quality of a seal or thickness of a pane can mean the difference between occupant comfort and draftiness.

Four buildings in different areas of the U.S. recently underwent window retrofits to improve the appearance and functionality of the structures. For two office buildings, a hangar and a high school, notable window transformations helped create better buildings.

Hillshire Brands

Hillshire Brands' headquarters before its window retrofit.

Hillshire Brands’ headquarters before its window retrofit. PHOTO: Jacob Clary

As part of a new identity for itself, Hillshire Brands moved from the Chicago suburbs to a 4-story, 1946 Art Moderne building in Chicago’s West Loop in late 2012. The building team was charged with completing the $75 million renovation in 10 months. The existing building was solid brick with no windows.

Chicago-based architecture firm Proteus Group designed a plan that gutted the interior and removed the exterior brick walls, which stripped the building down to its concrete frame. Today, the exterior features long bands of ribbon windows, including bent glass corners. Abundant natural light infiltrates the community-minded, open-floor-plan workspaces inside. The light-to-solar gain ratio of the low-tint, clear-colored glass contributes to the building’s low energy consumption and moderate internal temperature.

Hillshire Brands now is one of the anchors in the neighborhood, which is in the midst of revitalization, transitioning from an area of deteriorating buildings and vacant lots to an abundance of commercial and residential spaces, as well as transit. The office has been LEED for Interior Design and Construction Gold certified by the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council. It also was the Commercial Real Estate Development Association Chicago’s 2012 Office Redevelopment of the Year.

Pearl Harbor Hangar

Hillshire Brands' headquarters after its window retrofit.

Hillshire Brands’ headquarters after its window retrofit. PHOTO: RRGPhotographydotcom

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is rich in history and hosts nearly 1.6 million visitors per year. A design-build retrofit on the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard/Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PHNSY/IMF) Building 155 included the installation of 1,700 handcrafted steel windows to match the original windows. Constructed in 1941 and relatively untouched since then, the historic structure is still used for Navy business today. The project’s focus was two-fold: modernize the building’s profile and address safety concerns from the building’s age.

The project was overseen by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii, which was mandated to maintain the structure’s historic window features. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing and providing greater visibility for the personnel working in the building, the hot-rolled steel windows installed in the hangar met design and historic-preservation requirements.

About the Author

Elyse Cooper
Elyse Cooper has been writing about the design and construction industry for seven years, authoring articles for various nationally circulated trade publications.

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