The Illinois State Capitol building suffered through a number of questionable modernization projects since its 1887 christening. This project sought to restore its legislative chambers to their original Second Empire style. The architect and owner insisted on the entire design team’s commitment to extensive research concerning the original building details, finishes, materials and lighting.
Historic photographs, unearthed from Capitol archives, revealed the existence of chandeliers, sconces and torchieres, but most had been long ago removed and discarded. Working closely with the architectural team and an historic lighting fixture manufacturer, recreations of the original gas-lamp designs throughout the chambers and galleries were developed, but using electric sources. The aim was to provide the look and feel of the late 19th century using strictly modern lighting technologies.
The few original chandeliers and sconces that did remain, were carefully restored, wired for electricity and lamped appropriately.
The House of Representative’s art-glass skylight was restored to former glory, but with no longer a roof penetration, an enclosure was required to be constructed above the oculus where linear T5HO sources with adjustable reflectors were concealed. Pre-calculated focusing resulted in an imperceptibly blended luminous quality to the art glass. Dimming orchestrated through automated presets, modulated faux sky intensity and distribution, to mimic exterior conditions.
Existing rear re-lamped incandescent downlights and accent lights recessed into both Chamber’s ceilings, were refurbished with precision reflectors and new sources, cutting energy 60% and increasing illuminance and highlighting. Glare was mitigated using custom accent light-baffle inserts.