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Kolbe Windows Restore Functionality to 1940s Historic Housing

Kolbe Latitude Series Vinyl Windows Chosen for Style, Quality

Wausau, Wis. (December 1, 2008) -- Originally built in 1939 to house the growing, suburban population of pre-World War II Washington, D.C., Westover's seven-acre, garden-style apartment complex is 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 an 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 companies. 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, "They put together several, able windows. But wouldn't you know it, the historic consultant picked the nicest, highest quality 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." Kolbe's Latitude Series features high-performance glass with PDLs (performance divided lites) using a 5/8-inch bar mimicking 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 1940's garden-feel intended in the original site plan.

To learn more about Kolbe's historically styled, vinyl windows and doors, or other renovation solutions, please call 800-955-8177 or visit

Westover Renovation Team – 1649 N. Longfellow Street, Arlington, Va.

Owner: AHC Inc.,
Architect: Neale Architects, LLC
General contractor: C.M. Parker & Co. Inc.
Window supplier: Shenandoah Sash and Door
Window manufacturer: Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork Co., Inc.
Mechanical/electrical/plumbing engineers: S3E-Klingemann Inc.
Structural engineers: Mesen Associates
Landscape architect: Rhodeside Harwell, Inc.

What began in 1946 as a two-brother team has grown into an internationally respected manufacturing company. Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork Co, Inc. remains a privately held, community-oriented business located in Wausau, Wis. Covering nearly one million-square-feet, its state-of-the-art facilities feature high-tech machinery and a design center to present the creative possibilities offered by Kolbe windows and doors.

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