Lab’s new building a danger to birds

To the Editor:

The new Laboratory School annex on Stony Island Avenue, celebrated in your Oct. 16 article, sits across the street from one of the most celebrated spots for viewing migratory birds in Chicago, namely Jackson Park and the Wooded Isle, where tens of thousands of warblers, orioles, tanagers, thrushes, thrashers, vireos and other species stop over in the spring and fall as they travel along the shore of Lake Michigan.

In recent years, many articles have appeared in the popular press, discussing the distressing news that bird collisions with architectural glass in see-through building features are now a leading cause of migratory bird fatalities. Unfortunately, the new Lab school buildings appear to have been designed without any consideration for bird safety, with the predictable outcome: its windows are now a hotspot for bird collisions, and will likely be directly responsible for dozens to hundreds of bird injuries and deaths each coming year. Some of the danger to birds could potentially be mitigated by adding features to the windows, such as reflective films. Such retrofitting would obviously be much less appealing, from many perspectives, than to have designed the building more sensitively in the beginning.

It’s wonderful that the school will offer such a good environment for children, but human activities affect more than just humans. The need for a bird-safe design in a building that sits across from a park that is famous for migratory bird stopovers, should have been a no brainer. The absurd thing about this current sad situation is that it could so easily have been avoided, had the building design been informed by published guidelines for how to avoid the kind of glass surfaces that are so deadly to birds.

Aaron Turkewitz