Springfield Public School District 186 moved to hire CJP Architects in 2003 to provide health/life safety renovations to historic Butler Elementary School whose original building was constructed in 1921 followed by two consecutive additions in the early 1930’s. The original 1921 structure was designed by the well known Central Illinois architecture firm of Helmle & Helmle; their signature terrazzo floor of a dark gray border separated from a lighter field with mosaic tiles form the corridors. The two 1930’s additions, one to the north and one to the south and both inset from the original building to emphasis its center entry, were designed by Harry J. Reiger another notable architect at the time.
The purpose of the project, which grew from a Citizen’s Advisory Committee analysis of the district’s capital needs, was to complete the following work over three summers: waterproof below grade and install a means to remove storm water runoff, complete upgrade of incoming electrical service, installation of new HVAC system with a modernization of the central mechanical equipment including removal of original boilers and replacement with smaller high efficiency devices, removal of any remaining asbestos containing materials, and design of a new lighting system, ceilings, and flooring.
CJP Architects became the first architecture firm to use the next generation (T5) of fluorescent lighting in the district. After much discussion, the district’s Director of Operations & Maintenance agreed to let this school be a pilot project for the district. CJP Architects explained that in a building with such significant daylighting a light fixture with only one lamp in cross section would be required. Therefore, half as many T5 lamps would be needed to perform what two T8 or T12 lamps had been doing and would still be able to provide the type of light required by any student regardless of exterior light levels. Also, previous to the renovations the district was maintaining four different types of fluorescent lamps for the building; CJP Architects specified only fluorescent light fixtures (including those in mechanical spaces) using T5 lamps in order to only have one lamp type in the building. CJP Architects worked closely with their MEP consultant who had not completed a project involving this type of lighting; it was clear at the conclusion of the project they had been convinced to specify and recommend this type of lighting in future school projects.
The project was awarded a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation to help offset the cost of the new fixtures. Peerless Lighting, whose fixtures were specified, was so enamored with the project they have included it in a national marketing campaign titled Lighting For People. A representative from Peerless Lighting indicated, “….so much of the school work we see is very similar; it was refreshing to see our product in the type of school most of us remembered from our childhoods.”