Preservation Pop Quiz: The A/C Question

Still hot where you live? It certainly is here in Vermont. So, let’s revisit Friday’s pop quiz, which¬†asked you to describe the issues in this image:

The comments seemed to focus on the architectural conservation issues and maintenance problems of the over-the-door air conditioning unit. While those are all good points, it wasn’t exactly what this question was getting at. It was meant more in the vein of this post about air conditioner units in the window of historic houses. If you missed it over the weekend, here is the second image to help you with your answer.

Less drastic than the first example, perhaps, but the same issue remains.

In this image, the air conditioning units are at least screened rather than exposed. Does that help? Without maintenance issues, what is really going on with air conditioning units installed in doorways? Think about it for a second. Doorways often have sidelights and transoms, yes?

These air conditioning units are installed in the place of the transom. The glass transoms are so often removed in favor of the units. So often they are not concealed like the first image; but, even in the second image, they are still visible to anyone who is looking.

In other words, there is a loss of architectural integrity on many storefronts. We often talk about the downside of replacing windows, but how often do we mention doorways? Frequently entrances are altered to meet modern building codes, which sadly can be a devastating change to fenestration. Architectural integrity aside, when has an air conditioning unit ever been attractive? It never seems like a friendly way to greet customers (and the stability, or lack thereof, seems to worry many of you, based on the comments!).  Obviously, this is a preservation pet peeve of mine. It might be one of yours now, too.

What are the other options aside from installing air conditioners in the transom? Are there none, or is it just the easiest thing to do?