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Ira Martin didn’t want his next home to merely fit in with the landscape, he wanted to find a way to showcase the surroundings and frame them, to “bring the outside inside.” President of Tony Martin, Inc., a luxury residential construction firm his dad started in Fredericksburg, Texas, Ira wanted his forthcoming Oglesby Ranch project, a 9,000-square-foot Hill Country home filled with reclaimed wood and country charm, to seamlessly blend with the rolling hills of Central Texas.
He found his answer via a San Antonio manufacturer that’s embarking on an ambitious project to resurrect the use of bronze in manufacturing. Progressive Solutions’ new Renaissance bronze windows — steel reinforced beauties that offer narrow sight lines and a cremone bolt locking system — were the perfect fit, offering the right proportions while meshing with the home’s historical design.
“They truly capture the great view,” he says. “Typical metal-clad or wood windows don’t fit the proportions we’re looking for, they’re too bulky. Plus, we use a lot of reclaimed material, like pine flooring. With the right color and same underlying color palette, these bronze window blend in seamlessly.”
That color match and historical perspective was just what Trevor and Shannon Markham of Progressive Solutions had in mind when they started developing these windows in 2011. A great compliment to and outgrowth of what the high-end hardware firm already offered — doors, windows, frames and bath accessories — these windows were designed with Renaissance techniques and old world craftsmanship in mind, to provide narrow sight lines and a different look and feel for architects and designers. The rich color pairs well with modern construction, as well as the reclaimed wood and historic facades of older homes and retro renovations.
“We’ll allow the bronze to naturally patina, or by customer request, we can accelerate the process,” says Shannon. “ After a few years, we expect them to look like a worn penny.”
Progressive was inspired to create the Renaissance series while working on the Von Behr Ranch Estate in Sisterdale, Texas, according to Trevor Markham. Founded in 2004, the company evolved from a focus on woodworking and wood products, which led to a deep understanding of renovations, the kind of projects that involved consulting with a local historical society. So when the architects at Von Behr asked about steel windows, Markham did some research and came upon the idea of doing brass and bronze instead. They took the option to their designers, who expressed interest. Markham then asked others he knew in the industry, who felt the same way.
“We opened up our research and looked around, and while it was very niche, it was a market not being serviced,” he says. “We feel it is a very remarkable niche market that is being rediscovered. That’s why we chose the name Renaissance — it was a time of rebirth and renewal.”
Markham welcomed the design challenges inherent in the creation of the Renaissance line — his varied manufacturing background includes stints working with brass extrusions — but these windows were tricky. It was difficult to maintain historical profiles while heeding the desires of an energy-efficient world, and it was a technical hurdle to find suitable joinery for connecting the extrusions together. But after a few years of work, the line finally went on sale this spring, boasting numerous details, such as flanges and multipoint lock levers, that allow these custom products to easy fit into any current construction environment. After machining extrusions, debarring and hard prep, Markham and his team assemble the window or door frame, and all the hardware, in house, then add the patina, and install glass and hardware.
By their very nature, the Renaissance windows are denser, heavier per lineal foot — “there’s no way you’re supposed to be able to afford it,” he says. They’re four times heavier than aluminum windows, and cost about three times as much than a comparable extrusion in aluminum — that’s a cost of 12 times the standard window. Cost is always the first question, he says, but inquires from designers creating and renovating high-end homes suggests the end results are worth the price. The full range of products — fixed panels, casement and awning windows, as well as pivot and swinging doors — gives architects plenty of flexibility.
Progressive sources its bronze from MAC Metals in Kearny, New Jersey, Kearney, a fully integrated American brass mill produces custom brass, bronze and nickel silver extrusions. Markham felt it was vital to support American industry, but was also attracted to the company’s proprietary Redd Metal extrusions.
“It provides a great color contrast,” he says. “Setting of bronze against stone, it’s gorgeous. We initially tried with three color choices, but it was better to stick with the Redd Metal. Certainly everyone in the design world feels that way.”
Progressive Solutions sees outreach to the architectural community as the key to making Renaissance a success. The completion of projects like Oglesby Ranch (set for Thanksgiving) as well as constant networking — “we’re wearing out some shoe leather and taking it to the architectural community” — is they way that Markham sees them opening, and selling, doors. It’s a compelling story of skilled craftsmanship, and understanding your customers, that’s found a welcome reception thus far.
“It’s a continuing challenge for us to prove ourselves,” he says. “It’s great to be able to say we have high-profile clients. But it’s what we do tomorrow. We need to keep pushing forward and finding solutions. You never know what’s going to come tomorrow.”
About Progressive Solutions
Progressive Solutions specializes in making a comprehensive line of doors, frames, hardware, bath accessories and windows, and has supplied jobsites coast to coast, as well as collaborated with major contractors on high-profile projects. Offices and manufacturing facilities are located in San Antonio; Progressive Solutions can be contacted at 210-832-8040 or www.wearefindinganswers.com.
About Mac Metals
Mac Metals Inc. is a “specialty brass mill” providing custom architectural metals to architects, general contractors, original equipment manufacturers, machine shops and architectural and ornamental metal fabricators that require custom extrusions made of brass, bronze and nickel silver. They can be contacted at 800-631-9510, or www.macmetals.com.
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