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1940's Townhouse Renovation

Project Information

1940's Historic Housing Renovated for Form & Function

Originally built in 1939 to house the growing suburban population of Washington, D.C., Westover Place is a seven-acre, garden-style townhouse community that is currently undergoing substantial rehabilitation. The 18-month, $53 million historic renovation will completely update all eight buildings and their 153 units when all phases are finished in 2010.

As a historic property, the buildings' updates are closely scrutinized for aesthetic, performance and cost compliance by the owner, AHC Inc.; general contractor C.M. Parker & Co. Inc.; the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the Virginia Housing Development Authority. To comply with the collective standards and incentives, Neale Architects recommended appropriate design and material choices including Kolbe's historically styled, ENERGY STAR® rated, vinyl windows.

"We know the original 1940s windows were ordinary, wood, single-glazed, double-hung windows with rope balances. We know that these had been replaced in the late '80s with thrift, aluminum-clad windows from the era," says Wayne Neale, AIA, and namesake for Neale Architects. "These are straightforward, pragmatic little buildings. At times, we wanted to embellish them, but you had to grab your hand with the pencil in it to make it look like it did in 1939."

"We tried to find an affordable window that more closely resembled the wood originals, was agreeable to the Department of Interior and our client," adds Neale Architects' Joel de Leon. "Essentially, we wanted to find the least expensive window that met the qualifications."

"It was a struggle to find one to fit this criteria," admits Neale. "Previously, a vinyl window had been approved for historic renovation projects, but after the Department of Interior saw it installed, it was determined to be a lesser quality window."

"Kolbe is not like other vinyl window manufacturers. They've really made a vinyl window that looks like a wood one," says Tom Sanders, general manager of Shenandoah Sash and Door. Joe Weatherly, project manager for AHC, agrees, "Several windows were reviewed. Wouldn't you know it, the historic consultant picked the nicest, highest quality Washington, D.C. product, and approved Kolbe. It was very much a choice of style; we really like how it looked when it was installed."

The look of Kolbe's Latitude® Series' profile and mullions appealed to the decision-makers, notes de Leon. "The weightiness, the thickness of the mull, and the traditional proportions, all resembled the original windows' look more closely. Adding to this, the fact that they're essentially maintenance-free and within budget, truly raised the bar."

From Weatherly's perspective, "The functionality is more important to me – the insulated glass, the ENERGY STAR rating." He specified Kolbe's Latitude Series windows with high-performance glass and optional PDLs (performance divided lites) with 5/8-inch bars, to resemble true divided lites. To further match the desired look and opening, Kolbe manufactured two double hung windows as a single unit with a 6-inch mull, to give the appearance of being two separate windows. "Kolbe figured out how to create the twin window 'look' as an already-assembled, structural unit for easy installation," says Sanders. "To install the units, the existing sashes are removed, the existing sill is cut out, and the new window slides inside the opening. Kolbe provided wood extension jambs through which the window is attached into the existing frame. Since the new window encapsulates the existing frame, lead abatement was minimized."

When all phases of renovation are complete, Westover's residents not only will enjoy new windows, but also new kitchens, baths, windows, electrical, plumbing, individual hot water heaters, individual HVAC systems and roofs. In addition, a new community room and leasing office are scheduled to be constructed, and the landscaping returned to the 1940s garden-feel intended in the original site plan.

  • AHC Inc., building owner
  • Joe Weatherly, project manager
  • Neale Architects
  • C.M. Parker & Co. Inc., general contractor 
  • Shenandoah Sash & Door, Kolbe window & door dealer

Approved for historic aesthetics, performance and cost compliance by:

  • U.S. Department of the Interior
  • Virginia Housing Development Authority

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