The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception serves as the spiritual center for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. Constructed and dedicated in 1928, the Cathedral was showing its age. The Cathedral construction was based upon the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. The pristine ceiling plasterwork needed an update after 80 years of operation and repair work that was less than faithful to its origins. The lighting also needed to be updated to satisfy the needs of an aging congregation but had to stay true to the original design intent.
The original lighting was provided by chandeliers and sconces with matching cast decorative elements. The chandelier finishes and fittings had been deteriorated by years of soot, smoke, and dirt. The fixtures were removed and renovated to match the original finish and had their electrical components updated. The original sconces had been lost to time and so were recreated using photographic information and by recasting the decorative components from the chandeliers.
While this satisfied the desire to maintain the original appearance of the nave and chancel, it could only partially address the functional illumination needs of the congregation.
One of the project goals was to restore the original volume’s colors, gilding, and trompe l’oeil patterns. Working in concert with the architect and the ceiling restoration team, downlights providing the functional illumination were integrated into the ceiling in specialized panels, concealing their appearance within the ceiling coffers. Additional lighting was carefully concealed within the architecture to illuminate and bring focus to the altar and reredos.