Saturday, August 04, 2001

Krohn spruced one pane at a time

Safety glass being installed

By Emily Biuso
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] Painter Chris Phillips paints the steel skeleton that will hold new glass at the Krohn Conservatory.

(Tony Jones photo)
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        A conservatory without glass?

        “It's wild,” said Ruth Ann Spears.

        The manager of Cincinnati's landmark Krohn Conservatory in Eden Park says it's strange to see construction workers remove the old pieces of curved glass pane by pane.

        Though hardly an ordinary repair project, everything is going according to plan with the conservatory's glass replacement that began July 2.

        When completed, workers will have taken out about 12,000 panes of old glass and replaced them with new pieces of safety glass. The front entrance, vestibule, bonsai room, education room and show room are all having new safety glass installed.

[photo] Fences guard the atrium while safety glass replaces old windows.
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        Rough Brothers Inc., the Cincinnati-based company installing the glass, is familiar with the building — it installed the building's aluminum rafters in the 1950s, said Jim Smith of Montgomery Smith Inc., a historic preservation consultant on the project and former vice president of Rough Brothers. Rough Brothers also is renovating the National Botanical Gardens in Washington, D.C.

        Replacing Krohn Conservatory's glass is challenging because of the use of curved glass, Mr. Smith said.

        “It's a unique design — mixing a little modern with old,” he said.

    • 34: Days construction has been in progress
    • 1: Date in September when Phase I of construction should be completed.
    • $650,000: Cost of Phase I glass replacement.
    • 3: Years required to complete entire project.
    • 19: Date in August when more rooms of the conservatory will open to public.
    • 175,000: Number of visitors to Krohn in 2000.
    • 1933: Year Krohn was completed.
        He said because conservatories are so few in number throughout the country, it's difficult to find firms experienced with the oddly shaped buildings. Such companies are a “dying breed of artisans,” Mr. Smith said.

        This is the first stage of the building's glass replacement project, which will cost the city $650,000.

        Replacing the Krohn's glass is expected to take three years, but the first phase should be finished by Sept. 1, said Andrea Schepmann, administrative specialist. The glass in other rooms will be replaced in later stages.

        Since July 16, visitor access to the conservatory has been limited to the Desert Room, home to the rare Century Plant, which blossoms once after 30 to 40 years.

        Visitors will be able to enter other areas beginning Aug. 19, after reglazing work in the entrance is finished.

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