In a recent ranking of university museums, The St. Louis University Museum of Art ranked No. 4 in the nation.
Its windows, however, would probably have ranked somewhere near the bottom, which brought added urgency to a recent window replacement project.
But there were challenges. As these are windows in an art museum, they had to contribute to climate control and art preservation. And as part of a historic structure—the one-time home of the St. Louis Club, built in 1900 as the center of St. Louis social life—the windows had to replicate those that stood during visits by several U.S. presidents, including presidents Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, William Howard Taft, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Warren G. Harding.
Moreover, they required a historic panning system capable of featuring one interior color to match the woodwork and a different exterior color to complement the campus color scheme.
Who could design and manufacture windows that blended the aesthetic appeal of historic replication with the economic imperatives of energy efficiency and climate control?
Graham Architectural Products came up with a solid solution to replace 546 windows in 120 openings, using fixed windows set in a historic panning system to replicate the original casements. The windows featured UV protection to preserve the art, while Graham’s fixed window design allowed the museum to more easily control the interior climate and reduce energy costs.
The Graham S6500 Series thermal strut aluminum fixed windows feature insulating glass with high performance, low-E coating on the glazing for energy savings and reduced ultraviolet light. With a U-value of 0.34 (R-3), the window proved to be a significant upgrade over existing windows, which had a U-value of 0.87 (R-1) and allowed a lot of air infiltration due to their age and condition.
Koch Corp., a leader in the field of historical window replacement, handled the installation, completing a smooth collaboration that overcame what Koch project manager Larry Vihlidal called “a very demanding schedule.”
None of this surprised him. As he explained, “I have worked with several of Graham’s sales reps on many different projects. All are very knowledgeable regarding the products and means and methods to have a successful experience from the order process to the completion of the project.”
He added, “I feel that Graham is one of the top manufacturers in the historic field. They have been able to match any existing window site lines and profiles we have run across since I have worked with them.”
According to Jack Hornsey, the independent sales rep who brought it all together, the St. Louis University Museum of Art windows back up Vihlidal’s assertion. “It’s a great product,” he said. “No air, no water, no sounds. And while I don’t know specifically the amount of energy they’ve saved, my guess is they cut their heating and air conditioning usage in half.”