Illinois House and Senate Chambers
LOCATION: Springfield, IL
AV BUDGET: $750,000
Arguably two of the most important rooms in the state of Illinois, the Illinois House and Senate chambers, located in the 130-year-old Illinois State Capitol building in Springfield, recently underwent an AV upgrade.
Vinci|Hamp Architects Inc. of Chicago was enlisted to restore and rebuild the original 1870s architecture, furnishings, and room finishes. All of the AV equipment had to be updated while remaining hidden behind the beautiful historic background of the building.
The design team installed—and concealed—a staggering quantity of technology elements that enable operation of the modern voting system employed by the House and Senate. If items even as small as wall plates had to be exposed at all, they were fabricated in brass with a custom dark bronze finish. Some speakers were concealed in the side aisles while others were built into the ceiling and plastered and covered with a decorative paint scheme to make them virtually disappear.
The state's IT department designed a computer application for the facility's voting system, which also controls the building's sound and AV functions. Banks of rack mount computers, in remote equipment rooms, are tied together to tally votes and communicate with the AV system and massive LED voting system signs. Large touchscreens provide monitoring and control for the AV operator and political majority and minority leadership positions.
Bennett Electronics of Pontiac, IL, was the systems integrator for the facility, while Lipp A/V Design Inc. of Buffalo Grove, IL, served as the design consultant.
Overall, the project provides a unique example of seamless, subtle, cutting-edge technology integration into aesthetic, historic architecture.
Aesthetic elements of the facility include walnut and mahogany woodwork, hand-made wool carpet, and recast ornamental plaster moldings.