Volume 7, Issue 3, May-June 2003

   

When officials at Houston City Hall decided to reduce energy costs and attempt to preserve the murals that cover the walls and ceilings of the 62-year-old building, Ginsler Architectural Firm, in conjunction with the Houston City Hall Preservation Committee, turned to window film for assistance.

Window film seemed to be the only answer, according to Richard Maxwell of Ginsler, who led the firm's search for an applicator to work on the city hall project. 

“It's a historic structure in Houston and the city was concerned that ultraviolet rays would fade some of the existing things that are in there,” he said. "The window film also helped with reducing the heat load in the building.”

Although the firm took bids from several window film applicators, Sun-Lite Solution of Houston won the job, mainly due to its promptness in returning the bid. 

"They came to us with a very good proposal and they were extremely prompt in their response," Maxwell said. "The price was right and the promptness was terrific."

So, Todd Haag and his crew of three window film applicators and one assistant stepped in. Haag serves as co-owner of Sun-Lite Solution with his partner Scott Tatum. The crew applied approximately 1,000 square feet of film to the building's 50 windows. The film utilized St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Film Technologies International Inc.'s Sun-Gard 50-percent, light-density film, distributed by Sunbelt Distribution of Houston. 

Kenny Horowitz, marketing and sales director for Sunbelt Distribution, organized the distribution of the film for the project. According to Horowitz, the film applied did not change the window's appearance at all on the outside, but is protecting the building's engravings, artwork and scrolled woodwork on the inside from fading.

In completing this project, the main obstacle Haag and his crew of six encountered was the building's age. Much of the glass was partially broken due to old age, so it had to be replaced during the film application process. 

causing the crew difficulty in accessing the window. Also, the building's public nature meant that throughout the application, people were going in and out of the building, including tourists, politicians and children on school field trips.

"The age of the windows and the caulking made it difficult, they'd changed all of the windows in City Hall except the ones that we tinted and they were trying to keep those original," Haag said.

The Houston City Hall Preservation Committee is also considering equipping the building with blinds and attempting to restore some of the original furniture from the building. 

Preserving History

Houston City Hall was built in 1938, after the city's municipal government outgrew original City Hall. The new City Hall was designed by an Austrian-born architect named Joseph Finger, who had designed the William Penn Hotel in Houston, the Montgomery County Courthouse in Conroe, Texas, and the Temple Beth Israel. Bates Construction Co. was awarded the contract for the building's construction.

Bates Construction began to build the City Hall on March 7, 1938 and it was completed in July 1939, after 20 months-or 800,000 hours-of work. In the cornerstone of the building, the city placed a time capsule, which contained a Bible, copies of the Houston City charter, Houston's three daily newspapers and the City Auditor's report for 1937. 

The city's mayor and lawmakers moved into the new building five months after its completion in December 1939. Including landscaping and furniture, the building cost a total of $1,670,000. The building was one of the first completely air-conditioned office buildings in Houston.

Penny Beverage is the editor of Window Film magazine.


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