By Stephanie Joy Smith and Margaret Foster | From Preservation | January/February 2008
Who's News Ceiling Green With degrees in biology and environmental science, 34-year-old Daniel Steinitz has a deep love for the environment. Steinitz is also part of a preservation-minded family: His mother, Judith Tener-Lewis, and stepfather, renowned urban designer David Lewis, ardently worked to have downtown Homestead, Pa., listed in the National Register in 1990, and Steinitz often works as a developer on his stepfather's preservation projects. When it came time to put a new roof on the family's latest project, a c. 1892 commercial building in Homestead, Steinitz was eager to add a sustainable twist. Steinitz's family purchased the 17,000-square-foot bank in 1998 to prevent it from being demolished. While helping convert the building into a mix of residential and retail space, Steinitz learned of a matching grant program at the Pittsburgh-based Three Rivers Wet Weather Demonstration Project, which encourages the use of green roofs. The roofs use plants to absorb rainwater and reduce the runoff that can overwhelm a storm water system, as well as to provide extra insulation. Usually, green roofs are found on steel-framed buildings. But Steinitz learned that with some reinforcement, older, wood-frame structures could also accommodate green roofs. Steinitz calls the bank "an interesting case study" because it shows that "it is possible for an older building to be retrofitted with technology like this." Workers installed the roof last summer on half of the building, at a cost of $120,000, 55 percent of it funded by the Three Rivers foundation. The roof's other half will act as a control for a University of Pittsburgh experiment testing runoff levels and surface temperatures associated with green roofs.
—Stephanie Joy Smith
Last Lustron Standing When Delaware engineer Dave Mills heard that the U.S. Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Va., was giving away 58 Lustron houses from a neighborhood in the base, he jumped at the chance to acquire what he calls his future "getaway home." The all-steel ranch houses known as Lustrons were mass-produced in Columbus, Ohio, from 1948 to 1950, and the collection at Quantico, which housed military families, represented the largest in the country (Preservation, July/August 2007). The site, however, was a target for development, and Clark Realty Capital, based in Arlington, Va., was awarded a $240 million contract to build 1,100 new houses there. That's when Mills picked out his 1,110-square-foot three-bedroom house, built in 1949. Though the house itself was free, Mills spent $15,000 to dismantle and move the building, which weighs more than 12 tons, in six moving trucks (after labeling the 3,300 parts). The whole process took "about 600 man-hours," he says. His house, however, was the lone survivor. Unclaimed, the last of the 57 Lustrons were demolished last October. Mills' Lustron will remain in storage until he retires in about a decade. That's when he will reconstruct it. "I'm just surprised no one else jumped in and took a stab at it," Mills says. "I understand taking some buildings down, but I think a better effort could have been made to save these."
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