Architecture | Commercial and Retail |

Chicago Central Post Office

U.S. General Services Administration | Chicago | 2013

Lightswitch Architectural was hired by electrical contractor, Block Electric, to oversee a new ARRA-funded lighting upgrade to the post office.

What It Was

A midcentury masterpiece, Mies van der Rohe’s Chicago Central Post Office got a 21st-century update. Built in 1974 as part of a three-building GSA complex, the post office features a downlight grid that complements the building’s grid-like architecture. In the late ‘90s the building underwent an energy upgrade that included replacing the original lighting with a HID system that altered the lighting grid and resulted in uneven, discolored illumination. The GSA recently revamped the building with a series of updates that increased its energy efficiency and restored the original architecture.

What We Did

Lightswitch Architectural was hired by electrical contractor, Block Electric, to oversee a new ARRA-funded lighting upgrade to the post office. The goal was to reduce power use and adjust lighting levels as daylight increased in the space. Working with GSA, we uncovered the original Mies detail for the luminaires and redesigned the reveals to match. In addition, Lightswitch worked with the project team to bid the lighting systems and locate efficiencies that enabled the GSA to complete the whole project rather than half as they originally planned.

Why It Worked

Lightswitch Architectural used its keen understanding of lighting and lighting control technology to reduce the cost of the control system, the number of lamps in the space, and the building’s overall power usage. The result saved the GSA both in the design and its long-term care. What’s more, it revitalized an architecturally significant feature, restoring the building to Mies’ original vision.