Reusing Judd Hall’s Finials

Salvaged finials don’t end in landfill thanks to Facilities Services Community Engagement

Built in 1931, Judd Hall’s exterior envelope is undergoing a façade restoration project which is expected to be complete this fall. In addition to the brand-new roof and windows, replacement of failed masonry elements such as decorative new finials will be installed. Many of the existing finials are cracked and are potentially dangerous if left as is. 

With each 400 lb. finial unlikely to be repurposed on campus, Project Manager Caylen Doyle knew that storing the finials would only take up unnecessary space. Likewise, disposing of these non-biodegradable materials in a landfill would also occupy space there permanently.

According to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency as of January 2019, 37 landfills in the state had a combined remaining capacity of 1.232 billion gate cubic yards. That means that as a whole, landfill life expectancy in Illinois is approximately 24 years, barring capacity adjustments, until capacity is depleted state-wide.

The finials from the current project will not contribute to construction and demolition debris in a landfill facility because Doyle helped find them a new home with Architectural Artifacts, an architectural salvage and vintage antiques shop in Chicago. Store owner, Stuart Grannen explained that almost once a year, he will get a call from institutions who have had things stored and can no longer house them. In tooting his own horn with over 30 years in the business, Grannen said, “We know what to do and respect the pieces, so we get a good home for them.” The finials will likely be used to adorn a garden where there is no threat or risk of the cracked pieces falling.

The façade restoration contractor used pipe scaffolding and a hoist to safely lower the finials to the ground. Before they were gifted to Architectural Artifacts, the contractor first sent them to a stone fabricator who will make new pieces by hand. When asked if the new pieces would have the same details and be an exact match, Project Executive for Berglund Construction, Steve Maggio answered, “Yes! It’s basically taking history and replicating it for the future.” With an understanding of the importance of restoration in today’s climate, Maggio believes we are ahead of times and it is “restore and renovate,” not tear down.

In addition to 90-year-old Judd Hall, Kelly, Beecher, and Green Halls will also undergo the same process with removing, replicating, and gifting the damaged finials found as part of their façade restoration projects this summer. In conjunction with the Office of Civic Engagement, Facilities Services has also gifted stone pavers from a renovation of the courtyards at 1155 East 60th Street to a local high school. William Hill, Director of Woodlawn Botanical Nature Center at Hyde Park Academy, stated, “Our nature center will create exciting passageways for visitors to walk in comfort viewing our butterfly garden and various flower and rose collections.” With sincere thanks, Hill went on and further stated, “Your gift will greatly enhance our beautiful design features of the Woodlawn Botanical Nature Center.” 

Gifting what would otherwise be demolition debris is a unique way that FS is practicing sustainability while making a positive impact in the communities the University serves. Waste reduction is one of nine focus areas in the University’s sustainability plan.  Diverting these finials and pavers by gifting them to organizations helps the University cost effectively reduce the waste it generates from landfills by creatively reusing them.

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