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Downtown Windows Still Boarded Up


RWReagen

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Two months after hurricane Ike there are still many high rise buildings in DT Houston with plywood covered windows in need of replacement. I notice in particular Center Point Energy is using what looks like hardwood plywood which is extra expensive for theirs. In the building I work in the second floor windows are two floors in height and were said to cost $40,000 each and take about two months to ship which explains why they haven't been replaced yet. Are most high rise building windows custom made?

Edited by RWReagen
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I also heard that the large mezzanine windows at the El Paso building were in the neighborhood of $35,000.00. I thought that the person telling me that was just exaggerating.

There's a window washing unit on the west side of the Chase Tower today. They're not washing windows, but I can't tell what they're doing. Maybe they're just checking the seals or something. This side suffered no window damage. Also, they've been cleaning the granite for many months, but it doesn't look like they are doing that either. A coworker told me that the unit going up and down today is not the normal one. Apparently, the normal one was specially made for this building. The one today looks sort of flimsy and they get a pretty serious tilt going on.

I've not seen any window replacement activity going on either. Where do they make all of this glass?

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I also heard that the large mezzanine windows at the El Paso building were in the neighborhood of $35,000.00. I thought that the person telling me that was just exaggerating.

There's a window washing unit on the west side of the Chase Tower today. They're not washing windows, but I can't tell what they're doing. Maybe they're just checking the seals or something. This side suffered no window damage. Also, they've been cleaning the granite for many months, but it doesn't look like they are doing that either. A coworker told me that the unit going up and down today is not the normal one. Apparently, the normal one was specially made for this building. The one today looks sort of flimsy and they get a pretty serious tilt going on.

I've not seen any window replacement activity going on either. Where do they make all of this glass?

I drove by the chase underground parking and saw a window truck...(a huge 18 wheeler)

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I've not seen any window replacement activity going on either. Where do they make all of this glass?

I know at least one of the big skyscraper window companies is in Minnesota. It's the same firm doing the Freedom Tower in New York. The fact that a MN company is doing the Freedom Tower suggests that skyscraper glass is a specialty item and hard to come by/manufacture.

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It takes a while to order those big custom window panes.

Also, this is why you're seeing scaffoldings roofed in plywood around some building downtown. There are still some broken windows that haven't fallen (yet) although most have been at least boarded up. The thought of a nice thick jagged plate glass shard dropping on me from fifty floors up totally has me using the tunnels whenever possible. The pedestrian protection will stay in place until the damaged windows have been replaced.

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Spoke with the director of the National Hurricane Center, Bill Read, last night at a conference and I had asked him about the tremendous window damage in that building. He said that he had spoken with several highrise engineers and they proposed that Bernoulies Principle or the 'canyon effect' was not at work here, but rather faulty window installation. If there were pressure issues or gravel, we would have seen the same kind of damage in other structures. This is not the case. Also to point out that Ike produced very few tornadoes. I think only 4 at last count. This is unbelievable. After reviewing satellite imagery and vorticity maps, it is clear that tornadic activity was NOT the cause. Just thought I'd pass that along.

Edited by wxman
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Spoke with the director of the National Hurricane Center, Bill Read, last night at a conference and I had asked him about the tremendous window damage in that building. He said that he had spoken with several highrise engineers and they proposed that Bernoulies Principle or the 'canyon effect' was not at work here, but rather faulty window installation. If there were pressure issues or gravel, we would have seen the same kind of damage in other structures. This is not the case. Also to point out that Ike produced very few tornadoes. I think only 4 at last count. This is unbelievable. After reviewing satellite imagery and vorticity maps, it is clear that tornadic activity was NOT the cause. Just thought I'd pass that along.

But weren't the broken windows in the Chase Tower primarily only on one side of the building? if it were faulty window installation it wouldn't have been concentrated on one side. Also there was a vortex consistently observed (by HAIF members) on that side of the building. You can see videos of it. Sorry, but I don't think the faulty installation story sounds right.

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But weren't the broken windows in the Chase Tower primarily only on one side of the building? if it were faulty window installation it wouldn't have been concentrated on one side. Also there was a vortex consistently observed (by HAIF members) on that side of the building. You can see videos of it. Sorry, but I don't think the faulty installation story sounds right.

There's window damage on one side of the building because that's the way the prevailing wind came from...from the east. That's also where the highest stresses were. Explain to me why none of the other buildings have that kind of damage? The Wells Fargo Building, which during Alicia lost tons of windows (albeit from gravel) but none of the other buildings, even on the east side, have that kind of damage. What else could it be from? Even the Williams Tower has window damage, but not nearly to that extent. The man spoke with engineers, mulitple ones at that, and they faulted the installation.

Edited by wxman
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There's window damage on one side of the building because that's the way the prevailing wind came from...from the east. That's also where the highest stresses were. Explain to me why none of the other buildings have that kind of damage?

Because that was the side of the building where the tornado was. That is why the westward facing windows of the Chase operations center across the street were also blown out.

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Because that was the side of the building where the tornado was. That is why the westward facing windows of the Chase operations center across the street were also blown out.

Exactly right. My understanding from a manager of one of the other downtown towers, is that they believe the tornado primarily hit the ops center, tearing off the roof and most windows, and the debris from that destruction caused most of the damage across the street. (hence, all the damaged windows in Chase Tower were on the lower levels.)

(and FWIW, my building manager friend also told me it would take many months to get all of the windows replaced, even in his, relatively lightly-damaged tower).

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There's window damage on one side of the building because that's the way the prevailing wind came from...from the east. That's also where the highest stresses were. Explain to me why none of the other buildings have that kind of damage? The Wells Fargo Building, which during Alicia lost tons of windows (albeit from gravel) but none of the other buildings, even on the east side, have that kind of damage. What else could it be from? Even the Williams Tower has window damage, but not nearly to that extent. The man spoke with engineers, mulitple ones at that, and they faulted the installation.

Hmm, the winds at my house were strongest from the WEST, not the east. The earlier winds, from midnite to 4 am, blew north to south. As the eye passed downtown, they shifted to west to east. The west side of my house was plastered with shredded leaves, a roof panel on the northwest corner of my garage blew off, and my two newest planted trees now lean to the east from the strong western winds. The only eastern wind I got was early in the evening, and those were never above about 30 mph. I suspect that downtown, only about 2 miles away from my house, experienced similar winds.

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I was told by a friend that works for Harris county Emergency Management that Houston had gotten rid of most of the gravel roofs downtown to keep the damage down and he suggested and I agreed that possibly the actual flexing of the buildings caused many of the windows to pop out

I know from my Lawrence Speck Architecture class at UT that this is possible in buildings even during calm times so it would make sense to me that the tallest and most likely to flex building like Chase would lose the most windows

I believe it was the John Hancock Tower in Boston that Speck used as an example and noted it was because of the thinness of the building and that the thinness also contributed to some other issues as well like the HVAC system being too small at first.....but it has been a while since that class

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Hmm, the winds at my house were strongest from the WEST, not the east. The earlier winds, from midnite to 4 am, blew north to south. As the eye passed downtown, they shifted to west to east. The west side of my house was plastered with shredded leaves, a roof panel on the northwest corner of my garage blew off, and my two newest planted trees now lean to the east from the strong western winds. The only eastern wind I got was early in the evening, and those were never above about 30 mph. I suspect that downtown, only about 2 miles away from my house, experienced similar winds.

They may have been from the west. It's a hurricane. The wind blows in a counter-clockwise direction. Depending on what side of the eye you were on will determine which way the wind came from. In the Spring/Woodlands area, we had 85 mph winds from the north. They shifted around to the south and southwest when the eye passed to our northeast. As the eye moved over Galveston Bay, there was a very strong wind from the east. Being the eye was east of downtown, a counter clockwise spin would reinforce my point. See the link below. It clearly shows a very intense eyewall over downtown. An east to northeast wind would have prevailed for a couple of hours. If your west of downtown, even by two miles, the winds would have quickly changed direction being you were already west of the eye.

http://www.srh.noaa.gov/hgx/projects/ike08...ar/IkeShort.gif

Because that was the side of the building where the tornado was. That is why the westward facing windows of the Chase operations center across the street were also blown out.

Ok, not to flex my muscle here so-to-speak, but I study this crap all day long. Ike had few tornadoes. We have looked at the data and though it's possible I guess, there is no evidence of tornadic activity in the downtown region. I don't care what you or anybody else says. Like the post above, one of the highrises in Downtown Boston had the same problem. It obtained the nickname "Plywood Palace" because of it.

Edited by wxman
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They may have been from the west. It's a hurricane. The wind blows in a counter-clockwise direction. Depending on what side of the eye you were on will determine which way the wind came from. In the Spring/Woodlands area, we had 85 mph winds from the north. They shifted around to the south and southwest when the eye passed to our northeast. As the eye moved over Galveston Bay, there was a very strong wind from the east. Being the eye was east of downtown, a counter clockwise spin would reinforce my point. See the link below. It clearly shows a very intense eyewall over downtown. An east to northeast wind would have prevailed for a couple of hours. If your west of downtown, even by two miles, the winds would have quickly changed direction being you were already west of the eye.

http://www.srh.noaa.gov/hgx/projects/ike08...ar/IkeShort.gif

You should probably reread the posts on the hurricane thread, and note the time that said posts were made, before you so smartly tell us neophytes how it is done. I was awake, online and reading the posts as it happened. I know where the winds were coming from at the time. So do the posters who were in the Rice Hotel watching it. Neither they nor I particularly care what a guy 30 miles and 1300 miles away respectively, have to say about it.

EDIT: I really feel the need to point out your VERY OWN POST, which states that no east winds hit the Woodlands. Why you think that a location due north of downtown...and me...would not get east winds while we would is ludicrous. Read your own post and see how silly you sound, reinforcing my point.

Edited by RedScare
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You should probably reread the posts on the hurricane thread, and note the time that said posts were made, before you so smartly tell us neophytes how it is done. I was awake, online and reading the posts as it happened. I know where the winds were coming from at the time. So do the posters who were in the Rice Hotel watching it. Neither they nor I particularly care what a guy 30 miles and 1300 miles away respectively, have to say about it.

EDIT: I really feel the need to point out your VERY OWN POST, which states that no east winds hit the Woodlands. Why you think that a location due north of downtown...and me...would not get east winds while we would is ludicrous. Read your own post and see how silly you sound, reinforcing my point.

Personally I think your an idiot. I don't need to justify myself to you. Have a good one.

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Well, they sure were quick to replace the roof on the Chase parking garage building. It did not appear to be damaged afterward, just looking at it. Before, it was 'gravel colored' and now it's black. They rolled out what looked like thick linoleum as the new roofing material. One can only speculate, but three buildings in the vicinity of the roof elevation suffered the damage.

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I was told by a friend that works for Harris county Emergency Management that Houston had gotten rid of most of the gravel roofs downtown to keep the damage down and he suggested and I agreed that possibly the actual flexing of the buildings caused many of the windows to pop out

I know from my Lawrence Speck Architecture class at UT that this is possible in buildings even during calm times so it would make sense to me that the tallest and most likely to flex building like Chase would lose the most windows

I believe it was the John Hancock Tower in Boston that Speck used as an example and noted it was because of the thinness of the building and that the thinness also contributed to some other issues as well like the HVAC system being too small at first.....but it has been a while since that class

I agree with his theory.

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  • 2 weeks later...
I was told by a friend that works for Harris county Emergency Management that Houston had gotten rid of most of the gravel roofs downtown to keep the damage down and he suggested and I agreed that possibly the actual flexing of the buildings caused many of the windows to pop out

I know from my Lawrence Speck Architecture class at UT that this is possible in buildings even during calm times so it would make sense to me that the tallest and most likely to flex building like Chase would lose the most windows

I believe it was the John Hancock Tower in Boston that Speck used as an example and noted it was because of the thinness of the building and that the thinness also contributed to some other issues as well like the HVAC system being too small at first.....but it has been a while since that class

But doesn't it seem rather obvious that the upper portions of the building would flex the most? And all of the windows that came out were on the lower floors. Kind of blows that theory to pieces, doesn't it?

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But doesn't it seem rather obvious that the upper portions of the building would flex the most? And all of the windows that came out were on the lower floors. Kind of blows that theory to pieces, doesn't it?

No, the pressure gradient at the surface would have far exceeded what it was on the upper floors. The velocity was high in the upper floors, but we also had the canyon affect at street level and if you look at Bernouli's Principle, the velocity of winds would have increased a good bit. That would have lowered the pressure at the surface while the pressure inside the building would have remained steady. The windows were essentially sucked out. Most of the glass was on the streets, not inside the offices. With that said, most people would still argue the point "it didn't happen to any of the other buildings." That's because the window installation was done incorrectly in the JP building. If it was the sheer velocity of the wind, all the windows would have been missing in the upper floors...especially on the east facing facade. But that's not the case in any building. There were other things involved here. Not to mention EVEN IF it was a tornado, we're not talking about an EF 4 or 5. It would have been an EF 1 at best which actually has winds just as fast if not slightly lower than what was already being experienced. I'm sorry, you'll never convince me that this was the workings of a tornado. Radar imagery doesn't support it, though I will say they are very hard to detect in a hurricane.

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No, the pressure gradient at the surface would have far exceeded what it was on the upper floors. The velocity was high in the upper floors, but we also had the canyon affect at street level and if you look at Bernouli's Principle, the velocity of winds would have increased a good bit. That would have lowered the pressure at the surface while the pressure inside the building would have remained steady. The windows were essentially sucked out. Most of the glass was on the streets, not inside the offices. With that said, most people would still argue the point "it didn't happen to any of the other buildings." That's because the window installation was done incorrectly in the JP building. If it was the sheer velocity of the wind, all the windows would have been missing in the upper floors...especially on the east facing facade. But that's not the case in any building. There were other things involved here. Not to mention EVEN IF it was a tornado, we're not talking about an EF 4 or 5. It would have been an EF 1 at best which actually has winds just as fast if not slightly lower than what was already being experienced. I'm sorry, you'll never convince me that this was the workings of a tornado. Radar imagery doesn't support it, though I will say they are very hard to detect in a hurricane.

If I am not mistaken, you are making a completely different argument from TexasVines' argument that the glass breakage was caused by the building's "flexing" and have said nothing to refute my presumption about the building flexing more on upper floors than on the lower floors.

Your claim that most of the glass was in the streets is interesting. But given the pressure differentials you claim, wouldn't that likely be the case even if the breakage was caused by being struck by debris from the roof across the street (which is apparently what the building manager believes occurred)? In fact, if the breakage was caused entirely by the windows being sucked out in accordance with your theory, would it not be the case that there would be virtually no glass on the inside of the building? (For the record I have no dog in the tornado/no tornado hunt. My downtown building manager contacts tell me that the roof was ripped off the Chase Building across the street (the early presumption being that it was a tornado; but whatever the cause, it apparently did happen) and the resulting debris hitting the Chase Tower caused the window breakage. Really seems quite simple. (There may well have been some combination of factors here... perhaps the windows could have survived the sucking effect had it not been for the impacts they received from the debris; perhaps (although it seems less likely) they could have survived the impact of the debris had it not been for the sucking effect.)

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No, the pressure gradient at the surface would have far exceeded what it was on the upper floors. The velocity was high in the upper floors, but we also had the canyon affect at street level and if you look at Bernouli's Principle, the velocity of winds would have increased a good bit. That would have lowered the pressure at the surface while the pressure inside the building would have remained steady. The windows were essentially sucked out. Most of the glass was on the streets, not inside the offices. With that said, most people would still argue the point "it didn't happen to any of the other buildings." That's because the window installation was done incorrectly in the JP building. If it was the sheer velocity of the wind, all the windows would have been missing in the upper floors...especially on the east facing facade. But that's not the case in any building. There were other things involved here. Not to mention EVEN IF it was a tornado, we're not talking about an EF 4 or 5. It would have been an EF 1 at best which actually has winds just as fast if not slightly lower than what was already being experienced. I'm sorry, you'll never convince me that this was the workings of a tornado. Radar imagery doesn't support it, though I will say they are very hard to detect in a hurricane.

very well put wxman, makes sense to me

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But doesn't it seem rather obvious that the upper portions of the building would flex the most? And all of the windows that came out were on the lower floors. Kind of blows that theory to pieces, doesn't it?

As someone who lives in a 100-story building that sways in the wind, I can tell you that while there's more sway at the higher floors, the most flex is in the middle of the building.

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As someone who lives in a 100-story building that sways in the wind, I can tell you that while there's more sway at the higher floors, the most flex is in the middle of the building.

Alright. Assuming that's true, one would expect the worst damage to be confined to the middle of the building. That is not what happened at Chase Tower. Roughly the bottom half of the building suffered the worst damage.

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Alright. Assuming that's true, one would expect the worst damage to be confined to the middle of the building. That is not what happened at Chase Tower. Roughly the bottom half of the building suffered the worst damage.

I'd say it probably has a lot to do with how the building is constructed. Some are designed to deal with forces by swaying. Others by twisting (like Tokyo City Hall). There are probably a lot of other methods, as well.

With a five-sided building like Chase, it's probably anyone's guess what happened when the wind hit. Probably only the architect and structural engineer know.

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has to do with the delivery times of the particular glass for the opening. Has to be run when that particular type of glass withthe coating is being run in the line. Set up of the run is quite costly. Some delivery times can be up to 20 weeks depending on the coating type. One manufacturer has cut down the time to 12 weeks. Small orders are harder to get into production. Hope this helps.

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Whats going on all over downtown? There is scaffolding on the tops of several towers like 1500 Louisiana & Continental Center. Are they replacing damaged windows or lights from Ike? I noticed the band of white neon which is lit sometimes on top of Wells Fargo Plaza appears to be broken in several places.

Edited by Metro Matt
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  • Highrise Tower changed the title to Downtown Windows Still Boarded Up

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