Architecture | Educational and Cultural Institutions |

University of Illinois Chicago Lecture Center

Chicago, IL | 2016

What It Was

The University of Illinois Chicago’s Lecture Center A1 got an A+ upgrade. Originally designed by renowned architect Walter Netsch in the 1960s, the lecture center—one of the university’s largest—required a major upgrade to meet the needs of the modern classroom. Architects Valerio DeWalt Train Associates updated the space with new interiors and lighting, acoustics, audiovisual, and MEP systems.

What We Did

VDTA tasked Lightswitch with designing the lighting for the renovation. Our design honored the 1960s architecture, while bringing the lighting into the 21st century. With its four distinct quadrants and geometric vocabulary, the original ceiling was one of the key architectural features in the room. The new ceiling celebrates the spirit of the original design, but updates it with more efficient materials. The outdated fluorescent lights were replaced with energy-efficient linear LED luminaires that delineate the unique ceiling geometry and seamlessly integrate with the acoustic ceiling tiles. Along the sides of the room, LED luminaires wash the exposed brick walls, another signature element. Additional LED theatrical fixtures illuminate the stage. All the lighting is fully integrated with the AV system and controlled with a DMX system to ensure smooth dimming and ease of use.

Why it Worked

Completed on a fast-track schedule during summer break, the newly revamped lecture center has enhanced the educational environment. Students have claimed the bright new lighting has made the space more comfortable, while teachers have reported that they enjoy having more lighting options for lectures. The university has also benefited: By using only four digitally controlled LED lamp and luminaire types, we significantly reduced the school’s energy and maintenance costs.