Chicago Building Violation Data and Charts – January 2019

Time for data, charts, and more data. Here are all the top building violations of January 2019:


As typical, the most common violations include elevators, vacant buildings, and exterior wall repairs. The comment of “arrange premise inspection” is a common comment usually paired with others to verify that violations have been resolved, or to complete a building. One comment that is unique to the colder months, and this January in particular, is the “heat unit adequately” violation. Let’s look at the violations that happened during the week of the polar vortex in particular:

polar vortex.PNG

Here, the unit heat violation jumps to the first spot with over 100 complaints, as would be expected. Providing proper heat to people’s homes during cold weather is both a difficult challenge and vital to tenants’ safety and health.

The data shown here comes from the Chicago Data Portal. We’ll provide new data each month along with insights in response to current events or historical trends.


Avoiding Code Fails – Basements Before 1957

Among the reported building violations for 5642 S Calumet Ave, most are normal. Some repair to doors, finishes, and walls here. Replace monoxide detectors there. And of course, the usual reminder that this repair work will require a permit and submission of plans by an architect. However, there was one particular violation that caught my eye:


The comments elaborate that the joists are exposed and, as part of the floor structure, need to be fire-protected. Normally, floor construction over a basement are required to be one hour rated or subject to normal floor requirements based on the type of construction. 13-60-200 covers basements:


And table 13-60-100 covers floor construction in general:



For those who don’t know, fire ratings are organized by how long a fire could theoretically burn and spread through a construction element or material. So a 1 hour floor is supposed to take an hour to burn through. This is to slow the spread of fire to allow for occupants to escape in the case of emergency. The table above says that the rating requirement of a floor depends on how the building is made and what materials it’s made from.

Under older versions of the building code, these “construction types” may not have existed or functioned under the same requirements they do today. Though building code had been in effect and updated many times before, according to the Encyclopedia of Chicago website there was a major update in 1957 that may have resulted in these standards. According to the county assessor’s website, 5642 S Calumet Ave is 102 years old, which allows it to take advantage of “pre-ordinance” sections of the building code. That’s why the floor structure only needs to be 1/2 hour rated rather than 1 hour rated like newer buildings.

Existing and historical buildings have a number of sometimes reduced and sometimes more stringent requirements, and it often takes a keen eye of the code and thorough research to recognize when it applies.

5642 S Calumet Ave.
Encyclopedia of Chicago
Chicago Building Code
Cook County Assessor


At the outset, I’d like to start by giving a preview of what’s to come with our first set of posts, and goals for afterwards as well. This blog will be about tech in architecture, but it’s important to note that this can mean many different things. Tech can be:

  • Technology – advancements in science, resources, and ideas
  • Technique – real-world applications of technology and methods at our disposal
  • Technical – analysis of work through knowledge and technology

All of these are important, but technology is what we think of when we consider where the industry is going and how we will adapt. When architects hear the word “technology,” they usually think of building technology: materials, assemblies, products, construction methods, and etc. However, when I think of technology, I envision the process of design itself that we engage in day to day. This blog will be mostly focused on the latter, because while we can often choose whether to make a high-tech building versus tried and true materials, the way in which we produce those designs has been forced to change many times over the years. And it will be forced to change again.

I’ve had experience and ideas with a number of emerging technologies in the design process and I’ll be expanding on them in the near future on these topics:

  • Laser Scanning and Photogrammetry
  • Visualization and Virtual Reality
  • Automation
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • BIM
  • Augmented Reality
  • Cloud Computing and Connectivity
  • GIS and real-world data

While these posts will be mostly of use to other architects and design professionals, I’m sure there will be value to others as well. You may be interested in the process or in related fields that can make use of these techniques.

There are a few other ideas tangentially related to our business and tech that I’ll get into at another time. This can include things like code explanations and analysis, building violation case studies, legal case studies, and hypothetical concepts for open lots and existing buildings. But we’ll leave that for later. I hope you stick around and can make use of the resources to come at Dwyer Architecture.