In August, a sudden storm broke one of the revolving front doors of my condominium building. Due to a shortage of replacement parts, we’re still waiting for it to be fixed.
That’s not the whole problem. The door is breaking more often. We live in a high-rise building amid some other high-rises, and the entrance area often becomes a wind tunnel — and in recent years, it’s been getting dangerously windy more often.
Revolving doors are a common element of architecture here in Chicago. They help keep buildings warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Tall buildings have airflow problems, and revolving doors are a space-efficient way to stop drafts. But the doors are a bit fragile, and our building may need to replace it with a different kind of door because climate change is bringing more frequent violent storms to an already windy city.
Compared to other effects of climate change, this is a laughably small problem. People are losing their homes, livelihoods, and lives to fires, floods, heat waves, hurricanes, and droughts. Yet, I think the broken revolving door illustrates the scale of climate change. The consequences are so big that even minor architectural elements are being affected. As another example, Chicago, like other cities, now requires flat roofs to be white to reflect heat: along with more storms, we’re going to face more heat, and cities can become deadly heat islands.
World-altering changes in the climate are creating a cascade of smaller changes. Here’s one of them: our front door keeps breaking — and it’s a sign of the times.