Honor Apartment, Box 54, 1947


This box contains 22 press sized negatives, and we’ll split the box in two sections.

This box is a surprize bonanza for those who are interested in construction techniques, and Stockton College of the Pacific (or UOP) history in general.

Plumber soldering soft copper pipe, Stockton, 1947
Plumber and supervisor soldering swaged soft copper pipes, Stockton, 1947

It won’t escape anyone that these soft copper pipes are readied to be buried in a slab of sorts. Yes, this is an early attempt at underfloor or radiant heating with copper pipes buried in a concrete reinforced slab. We no longer use copper for this but PEX (cross linked polyethylene based pipe), an invention of the 1960’s.

Although radiant floor heating is over 5,000 years old, it made its real entry in American homes and apartment buildings after the end of WWII.

Frank Lloyd Wright buried copper pipes in the concrete floors of his Usonian homes (1937 and later) and heated them with hot water.

A few postwar subdivisions, including Levittown, followed suit. But when the pipes eventually corroded, most home­owners abandoned radiant rather than jackhammer their floors. There are still tons of copper buried in concrete in suburbia America.

Plumbers laying out soft copper pipe for radiant floor heating, Stockton, 1947 (Printed)
Plumber installing soft copper pipe for radiant floor heating, Stockton, 1947 (Printed)

In both above images, the floor pattern becomes clear. One can see the stubs sticking out with inlet and outlet of the hot water in the copper pipe serpentine. Joel’s shadow is visible, he’s using a rangefinder style camera for this shoot.

Next two images give away the building location with certainty.

The corner of (current) Dave Brubeck Drive and Pacific Avenue, COP/UOP, 1947 (Printed)
The corner of (current) Dave Brubeck Drive and Pacific Avenue, COP/UOP, 1947 (Printed)

Looking on Google maps, and the associated images, shows us that these “Honor Apartments” are possibly the current “University Gate” apartments. I was not able yet to dig up much further history on this.

Joel drove by there each and every day he visited campus, so it was a given that he would photograph this.

Honor Apartments, poring the screed, COP/UOP, 1947
Honor Apartments, poring the screed, COP/UOP, 1947
Honor Apartments, poring the screed, COP/UOP, 1947
Honor Apartments, poring the screed, COP/UOP, 1947
Honor Apartments, poring the screed, COP/UOP, 1947
Honor Apartments, poring the screed, COP/UOP, 1947
Honor Apartments, poring the screed, COP/UOP, 1947 (Printed)

The white art-deco building, as seen in the two above images, is still there, currently, as of 2022, it is painted orange.

Honor Apartments, poring the screed, COP/UOP, 1947

When American developer William Levitt buildt large scale developments for returning GIs, he specified water based (copper pipe) radiant heating used throughout thousands of homes.

Poor building envelopes on all continents at the time, required excessive surface temperatures, leading in some cases to health problems. Europe and America later established lower surface temperature limits and development of comfort standards.

Today, plastic PEX tubing has replaced copper as the favored means of feeding “hydronic heat” into floors, making radiant heat systems more affordable than ever. And with a no-fail track record in Europe going back more than 35 years, it’s also made them more reliable, made possible by modern engineered insulating materials.

Cheers !


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