How do you think Mies’ 860 – 880 Lake Shore Drive Apartments should look?

We’re stripping the paint to see the condition of the steel and aluminum underneath, and to determine how best to repaint.

Testing various stripping agents on the window frames and the black steel.

A few frames are being stripped to the base metal, to see how Mies originally had them. That hasn’t been seen since about 1960, when they were painted. Unpainted, they didn’t hold up well.

At ground level and just above we’ll strip all the paint and start over. That should look great.
Above what’s called “the storefront”, we’ll probably paint over the existing paint this time, on the black and the aluminum. Because in five to ten years we’ll need to replace our window seals, which means we’ll need to repaint again.

Even though the aluminum is not in bad shape, I’d think about manufacturing and installing new window frames. Crisp, galvanized aluminum window frames that would look more like the originals and contrast beautifully with the black steel; and most important, new frames could be designed to support glass that is far more efficient than the single pane glass we have now.

Hypothethically, we could go to high-efficiency and double paned glass with an air space between them. That would save energy, lower heating and cooling bills, make the place more comfortable, and lower wear and tear on the building – especially during summer sunrises when the east side heats up and the west side can be cool.

Of course from the outside the glass would have to have exactly the same appearance as the original glass. The same reflection and the same transparency.

But that may be possible. Glass technology has come a long way since our windows were designed and installed more than fifty years ago.


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