Current City: Chicago, Illinois
Hometown: St. Charles, Illinois
Joined Alpha Rho Chi in 2002
JH: Why did you join Alpha Rho Chi?
CE: Growing up I was always involved in extracurricular activities, and when I went to college, I thought it would be a great opportunity to establish an extended family in such a big campus.
JH: Why did you choose architecture?
CE: Architecture was something I was always interested in, and when it came time to choose a major it wasn’t a question of what I would do. I became interested in historic preservation over my undergraduate period and took that passion and focused it in my graduate degree.
JH: What is something you love about Alpha Rho Chi?
CE: It is a great way to meet people and create life long friends. Other groups and clubs don’t have the same connection as Alpha Rho Chi does, and sometimes those groups may not continue throughout life. Alpha Rho Chi is always with you; regardless of your location, you will always find a brother.
JH: What positions have you held in Alpha Rho Chi?
CE: Throughout my time in college I served as Estimator, as Worthy Architect, and on the house and grounds committee; which fit with my studies and interests in preservation.
JH: What is a reason someone should continue with Alpha Rho Chi after graduation?
CE: It is such a great connection to so many people and experiences. I got my job from an alumni recommendation.
JH: What did you find difficult in preserving a house?
CE: A difficult part in preserving a house is striking the balance between the home being livable and maintaining the historical elements of the home. Likewise, a challenge is maintaining the architecture and feel of the building while making the main uses of the buildings current. Another issue we run into is how we address changes that have been made over time. Each project has its own set of unique challenges.
JH: Is the climate an issue in Illinois for preservation?
CE: Yes. There is so much abuse to materials from the freeze-thaw cycles, making it difficult sometimes to restore original building components.
JH: What types of projects do you work on?
CE: I work at an architectural and engineering firm mostly restoring building exteriors, existing buildings, and restoration projects. Some projects we work on are museum level where you consider the landscape, furniture and interior in the preservation. The main question to ask is, “What is the final goal of the project?”
JH: What is your favorite part about architecture? What drives you to do what you do?
CE: It is something that people interact with everyday. Whether you think about it or not you interact with architecture and have opinions on what works, what you like, and what can be improved.
JH: What is the craziest project you have worked on?
CE: Probably the project to move the historical Irving House from Wilmette, Illinois, to Evanston, Illinois.
JH: Tell me about the house you preserved.
CE: The home is a prairie-style house built in 1928. A developer purchased the land and wanted to demolish the house to build a new house. We had to cut the house into three sections and move the house to a different property. The majority of the work we did was updating the guts of the house to current standards. The bathroom and kitchen were redone because they were remodeled at some point in the 1980s, and we restored them to the original intent.
JH: What was the most stressful part?
CE: Moving the house. We had a short time frame to pull off this big move and coordinate it with city officials to make it happen. The only task that was stressful was figuring out the logistics of working between two towns and making sure all requirements were met for the preservation of the house. Both towns cooperated really well and helped in accomplishing the end goal.
JH: Do you have any advice for brothers out there?
CE: Don’t give up. Persevere. Any project is doable if you dedicate yourself to it and think of creative ways to solve the problem and make things work.
JH: Do you have any fun facts or anecdotes you care to share?
CE: I joined Alpha Rho Chi because of the historical chapter house in Champaign before I knew the Brothers. My time in the house resulted in a lifelong love of historic preservation, and joining the fraternity resulted in friendships that will last a lifetime.
To read more about Chris and the preservation of the home visit: http://www.landmarks.org/preservation-programs/success-stories/irving-house/