Given the task of revitalizing an aging 1970s apartment building in Schaumburg, Illinois, developer Castlebar Enterprises Inc. create a new look that would take the building well into the new century and, at the same time, invite potential buyers to explore the spaces inside. The result is a remarkable makeover for the 21 Kristin Drive residential building, now a stunning and sophisticated 10-story dwelling of 327 condominium homes worthy of its new name – The Residences of 21 (XXI).

Transforming the building’s exterior was an essential element in the successful makeover, a challenge that inspired creative thinking by the design and engineering experts at Accurate Perforating. Decades before, the balconies of this brick apartment building were created with painted plywood panels attached to aluminum railings for safety, producing a dated outer shell and a barrier that obscured sunlight from reaching the apartment interiors.

Understanding the building owner’s need to creatively update the balconies with minimal disruption and within budget, Accurate Perforating faced the challenge of merging function, aesthetics and cost efficiencies. The goal was to achieve an open look, in compliance with code, that would be just as appealing from the outside in as from the inside out.

Accurate Perforating created custom panels of perforated metal with a 3/16" round hole on a 1/2" staggered pattern with large solid borders. This design was executed on 0.125"-thick 5005 aluminum to meet the project’s budget without sacrificing safety or beauty.

A clear anodized finish was recommended for the balcony to retard corrosion, peeling or fading while allowing the beauty of the aluminum to shine through. Durability of the panels was also a key element, as condominium owners use the balconies as an extension of their daily living space. Clear anodizing was an inexpensive solution in line with project’s aesthetic goals. Installation was made easy with screws and pop rivets. Because the existing railings were aluminum, no bushings were needed to prevent galvanic reaction.

The conversion to condominiums and re-branding of 21 Kristin Drive is now complete. Once a nondescript brick structure, it is now a sleek and eye-catching collection of luxury residences in one of Chicago’s most popular suburbs. A significant feature in marketing the condominiums to prospective buyers is the beauty created as sunlight passes through the small openings of the balcony panels to showcase hardwood floors, contemporary kitchens and other upscale amenities. While allowing light in, the balconies also provide ample privacy, as the perforated aluminum appears almost solid from street level.

“Curb appeal is extremely important when marketing a project of this size,” says Chris Feurer, president of CRF Marketing, the group within Koenig &Strey GMAC Real Estate that is handling unit sales. “Replacing the panels in such a creative way was a significant improvement to the curb appeal, and it added the all-important ingredient of sunlight that appeals to buyers.”

Accurate Perforating played a significant role in making this large property stand out in a challenging real estate market. Accurate’s large-scale design-and-implementation solution met all of the project’s structural requirements while providing an aesthetically pleasing look that was the right fit for the building and the budget.