Restoring Beauty to Old Buildings

Jill works as a ‘preservation designer’ — a title her boss had to make up to describe her unique work of restoring beauty to old buildings and objects.

“I try to get people to think differently about the buildings that they use and live in every day,” she shares.

Video Transcript

Jill Tuinier: These faceted jewels, these fish scales, reflect and refract light. There are 2,848 pieces in the dome, and I know that, because I counted them (laughs). My boss had to make up a job title for me: Preservation Designer.

I tried to bring that beautiful place, or that building or that object back to life so that it’s clear how beautiful that thing is. When its been hidden for so long.

This is old growth wood and you can see how tight the grain is. Neil went all the way to California to get giant Redwood beams salvaged from… where were they salvaged from, Neil?

Neil: California, basically an old mining camp. They were from a bridge.

Jill: So they’ve been sitting in a lumber yard for 75 years? Wow.

A lot of these pieces are the original pieces that are over a hundred years old. There is respect for the way they did things in the past, and you want to discover why they did what they did and not just dismiss it offhand. Especially here in Chicago, you have so many great architects that worked here, such great design and it’s beautiful; they’re works of art.

Anything I can do to save a building or…crap, (laughter) sorry, I messed up…

I’ll get into conversations with people who’ve never even considered that something like a wood or steel window can be restored. They see it as disposable because everything else in their life that they’ve bought has been disposable.

It’s a cliché but if there’s a will, there’s a way. Everything is deteriorating, and you can either let it go to the point where it’s unusable or do what we can, where we can. So I am just one person; all I can do is keep doing my best and keep telling people why I’m doing what I’m doing. And try to get them to think differently about the buildings that they use and live in every day.

Hi, this is Jill, and if you enjoyed this interesting story, please subscribe to Grotto Network.

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