June 1, 2021
Like all beginnings, there’s a backstory. For our company, that history began when our founder Abraham Epstein, a recent graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, started working as the structural engineer for the architect S. Scott Joy in 1914. At the time, Joy was the primary architect for Chicago’s Central Manufacturing District (CMD) and, therefore, responsible for the design of a number of significant structures, including the CMD’s iconic Clock Tower Building.
The image you see above shows S. Scott Joy and Abraham Epstein in August of 1914, shortly after Abraham joined Joy’s firm, as well as the cover and introduction for a brochure that the Detroit Steel Products Company produced highlighting the work of Joy and his use of their Fenestra Solid Steel Windows. This was a product that gave Joy the ability to provide ample daylighting in his designs while also giving the user the ability to open and close windows to help better regulate temperature before the invention of industrial strength air conditioning and heating systems.
Additionally, the projects highlighted in the brochure really show Joy’s dedication to maximizing the use of natural light in industrial facilities, a trend that was ahead of its time and, to this day, is not entirely commonplace in similar warehouse or production facilities. Furthermore, it’s also evident that Joy was a proponent of sustainability in that his buildings helped increase ventilation and decreased the need and cost for artificial lighting.
Epstein worked for Joy until 1921, when the CMD asked him to become the primary designer and engineer. Still, it’s clear that Abraham learned a great deal about industrial design, as the Epstein designed manufacturing and storage produced for the CMD, as well as similar clients, throughout the world have applied this dedication to daylighting and sustainability.