NARI Chicago member earns contractor of the year award

Contact: Erik Martin or Lynn Walsh
Walsh Communications, LLC

Forde Windows & Remodeling in Northbrook earns national award for replacing windows in historic high-rise

Northbrook, Ill.-based Forde Windows and Remodeling, Inc. was recently named National Contractor of the Year in the commercial exterior category by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI).

In earning the prestigious distinction, the company bested several other contractor candidates competing from seven different regions across the country. Maurice Forde, president of Forde Windows and Remodeling, was presented the award at NARI's Evening of Excellence ceremony on April 2 in Jersey City, NJ -- an event attended by more than 300 of the industry's elite.

The commercial exterior project for which Forde ranked tops involved replacing 700 windows at Jackson Shore Apartments, an historic 12-story, 20-apartment co-op building--built in 1917 by G.H. Gottschlack and Co. and designed by renowned brother architects C.W. and George Rapp and located in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood just west of Lake Shore Drive. An architectural favorite in the neighborhood that's distinguished by its cylindrically shaped, six-windows north and south corners, the Jackson Shore Apartments building sports an attractive cream-pressed brick façade with a ground story Bedford stone base.

To pass stringent requirements imposed by the National Historic Registry on time-honored edifices like this 96-year-old high-rise, the remodeler had to carefully plan, measure and install the double-hung, low-E, argon gas-filled replacement windows. The original double-hung windows were cream-colored, but later painted black. To restore the windows to their original color and better blend in with the building's neutral brick tones, the replacement windows featured cream-colored aluminum exterior cladding, as well as wood interiors designed to match the building's existing woodwork and simulated divided light to maximize energy efficiency and maintain the building's historic relevance. 

Complicating matters was the fact that the window openings were of varied dimensions, and Forde's crew had to retrofit and schedule around 20 different unit owners housed in the structure.

"Winning this award was particularly sweet due to the unique challenges involved in working on such a cherished, historically significant building. Trying to preserve its distinctive character and appearance and accommodating all the business tenants required a lot of meticulous planning," said Forde, who completed the job in four months at the end of 2010. "Today, it's rare to be involved in a project that calls for a specialty wood window product like the kind we used, particularly in a high-rise situation."

Mimi Altman, executive director of NARI's Greater Chicagoland Chapter, which is headquartered in Des Plaines, said she is "extremely proud that one of our chapter's members was chosen for this accolade by our national organization. It demonstrates that our local member contractors offer services of the highest quality and integrity to clients. Maurice and his team stand out from the pack for their professionalism, impeccable craftsmanship and exemplary customer service."

Forde's firm has earned numerous trade-related honors over the years, including a Big 50 Award for Industry Impact in 2003 from Remodeling magazine; a Remodeling Excellence Award in 2003 from NARI; and a NARI Contractor of the Year Award in the historic renovation category in 1998. Forde himself served as NARI Chicago president from 1998 to 1999.

Forde Windows and Remodeling, Inc. is located at 1940 Raymond Dr., Northbrook, IL 60062. Phone (847) 562-1188 for more information or visit

Based in Des Plaines, The Greater Chicagoland Chapter of NARI ( is a not-for-profit trade association founded in 1987 and currently consisting of approximately 280 member companies. NARI Chicago is committed exclusively to the service of the local professional remodeling industry, representing professional remodeling contractors, product manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, trade and consumer publications, utilities and lending institutions.