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Historic and Architectural Considerations

An assessment of the significance of the windows should begin with a consideration of their function in relation to the building's historic use and its historic character. Windows that help define the building's historic character should be preserved even if the building is being converted to a new use. For example, projecting steel windows used to introduce light and an effect of spaciousness to a warehouse or industrial plant can be retained in the conversion of such a building to offices or residences.

Other elements in assessing the relative importance of the historic windows include the design of the windows and their relationship to the scale, proportion, detailing and architectural style of the building. While it may be easy to determine the aesthetic value of highly ornamented windows, or to recognize the importance of streamlined windows as an element of a style, less elaborate windows can also provide strong visual interest by their small panes or projecting planes when open, particularly in simple, unadorned industrial buildings (see fig. 5).

One test of the importance of windows to a building is to ask if the overall appearance of the building would be changed noticeably if the windows were to be removed or radically altered. If so, the windows are important in defining the building's historic character, and should be repaired if their physical condition permits.

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