Heather Morrison talked to Buildings Commissioner Judy Frydland and Skender director Jenny Han on stage inside Skender’s brand new modular construction factory in South Lawndale this morning about the updated Chicago building code. Skender hosted the Bisnow event at their facility, which officially opened on Tuesday in a ribbon cutting ceremony with Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
To start off the “fireside” chat, Frydland described her first job, in Cincinnati, Ohio, working for a community center during which she learned skills from a mentor there that she still uses today. Before working at the Chicago law department, Frydland was also a social worker. She said that being a buildings commissioner also requires that one does social work, to ensure the City of Chicago has a safe and affordable building and housing stock.
The three talked about how the new building code will affect the work of designers, contractors, and developers, across all building types. Heather said that the new code will be "instrumental" in improving the development process by allowing for more flexible design solutions, construction cost savings, and utilizing modern building systems and materials.
Heather thanked the commissioner, and Deputy Commissioner Grant Ullrich, for their courage and perseverance in adopting a modernized building code. Heather said later, “It was an honor to speak with Commissioner Frydland, Jenny Han, and Deputy Commissioner Grant Ullrich at the new Skender modular facility today. It's exciting to witness new innovative technology and discuss a new updated building code. Times are changing for the better as we all strive to make our field more efficient.”
Frydland noted that building rehab work won’t require bringing the building to a new construction standard, but that a survey and point system will be used to identify the sections of a building that need to be upgraded, potentially reducing design and construction costs.
Han asked the Commissioner how the updated CBC accommodates the modular housing that Skender will be deploying in Chicago's Near West Side soon. Frydland said that, because the updated Chicago building code (CBC) builds upon the 2018 International Building Code, which is the latest version, Chicago's updated building code will already accommodate the building systems Skender is using. Frydland said Chicago is now "cutting edge" and "we don't have to reinvent the wheel" to incorporate the latest in building techniques.
Ullrich had been involved in the last attempt to modernize the building code. After the chat, he talked about his experience as an attorney in the law department, prior to working for Frydland, sitting in on the meetings in 2010 and 2011 to try and update the code. Frydland said she and Ullrich were definitely able to use lessons learned during that attempt to ensure a new code would be adopted this time.
Heather mentioned, among other positive impacts, that the “Chicago vestibule” won’t be required anymore in the 4-hour fire wall. This is where a vestibule with two A-label doors is currently required. Under the updated Chicago building code, only a single 120-minute door is required.
The new CBC will take full effect on August 1, 2020. Frydland said that the new building code will be online in October, and people can purchase the code book, published by the International Code Council, in the fall.
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