delaware building

Delaware Building’s 30 Year Old Window Retrofit Still Going Strong

The Loop’s oldest office building, the Delaware Building, got a face-lift before joining the Chicago Landmark 30 years ago.

Chicago,December 2012 – In 1982, the Delaware Building was the Loop’s oldest office building and as the saying goes “some things never change”, the Delaware Building is still the oldest in Chicago’s Loop area. It was built in the massive rebuilding effort after the 1871 Great Chicago Fire. The Delaware Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 18, 1974. Prior to joining the ranks in 1983 as a Chicago Landmark, the building underwent a major historic renovation and was one of the first of its kind. Up until now historic renovations rarely saved old windows and glass; instead replacing them with new glass.
Signa System, Inc was brought onto the project to help preserve the historical character of the windows. The SIGNA SYSTEM is a method designed for on-site conversion of single-glazed windows to hermetically sealed insulating glass. SIGNA SYSTEM has been developed in Denmark and has successfully been marketed since 1976 in Europe and from 1980 in USA. The product is known as SIGNA SYSTEM, an abbreviation for Scandinavian Insulated Glass of North America. It is the only Hermetically Sealed Retrofit Insulated Glass continuously and successfully used for over thirty years in the USA.

The SIGNA INSULATING GLASS is constructed by adding and hermetically sealing an extra sheet of glass to the existing window pane. An air space separating the glass is created by an aluminum spacer which contains a moisture absorbing material. A hermetic bond sealing the glass is created by a special adhesive on the spacer which is highly resistant to U.V. solar radiation and moisture vapor transmission. The hermetic bond is made by heat melting the adhesive and bonding aluminum and glass together. This method allows the use of various types of glass including tempered, laminated, tinted, and reflective. It can also be installed from inside or outside of the building.
In historical restoration projects it is important to preserve the old existing glass since the new glass has a reflective mirror-like surface that will alter the historic look of the entire building. Therefore SIGNA window retrofit, by preserving the original existing glass and improving energy efficiency of the old windows, is the only logical and economical way to preserve the historical character of the building while also improving the energy efficiency of the structure. By utilizing the existing glass it also saves on energy and the environment. It is truly a “GREEN” insulated glass unit.
This technology and the components for this system have been first developed and patented in Scandinavia by Ryszard Borys, a Polish architect between 1974-1976, in cooperation with engineer Leslaw Becker and the Danish and Norwegian Institutes of Technology. Its creation was a response to the first energy embargo by oil producing countries (OPC) which created the economic recession of 1974 in Europe and in the worldwide economies. During the development process, the SIGNA SYSTEM has been tested multiple times by the Danish Institute of Technology in Aarhus and the Norwegian Institute of Technology in Trondheim.
SIGNA SYSTEM was brought to and marketed in the USA since 1980. The SIGNA SYSTEM has been recognized as one of the most reliable and economic ways of improving building insulation. The SIGNA SYSTEM has a wide range of applications.
SIGNA SYSTEM can be installed in any type of window frame materials like aluminum, steel frame, wood, and vinyl. It can be utilized not only in historical restoration work, but also in modern high-rise buildings and commercial spaces. A number of Mies van der Rohe high-rises and Gold Coast condominium in Chicago have SIGNA retrofit glass installed, since 1985.

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