Spotlight Projects

  • Mills builds custom podium

    Jun 18, 2015

    Mill ISFI PodiumLong-time fireman and Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI) instructor John Leonard passed away in January after a battle with cancer, and his co-workers at IFSI wanted to do something to memorialize him. They just didn’t know what.

    Burke and other IFSI staff ultimately decided to have a classroom podium made to honor Leonard, and that’s when they turned to the F&S Mill Shop.

    “They didn’t really know what they wanted. They had all kinds of ideas,” said Mill Foreman Andy Burnette, who built the podium with millworker Brad Ward. “They wanted to memorialize him so that when anyone walked in the room, they would see the podium and think of him.”

    The lectern is adorned with Leonard’s firefighting equipment and tools, including his helmet, flashlight, radio, ax, and badge. Its diamond metal base, reminiscent of a fire truck, was created by the Sheet Metal Shop, and the Paint Shop provided a coat of clear lacquer for the podium.

     “We’ve built lots of podiums all over campus, but never something as unique as this, especially when you know it’s to honor one guy,” Burnett said.

    For his part, Burke said he couldn’t be happier with the way the podium turned out.

    “It’s tremendous,” he said “Those guys are such professionals. There were people over here who had tears in their eyes when they saw how well they made the podium. They are true craftsmen and did a great job.”

  • Krannert Art Museum (KAM)

    Feb 16, 2015

    When the Krannert Art Museum (KAM) ran into a problem with the display for its upcoming exhibit, it didn’t have time to call the architects responsible for the show. Walter Wilson, KAM’s design and installation specialist, had three days before the exhibit opened for the first-time ever, so he called F&S.

    KAMThe night of Monday, Jan. 26, he and Mill Shop Foreman Andy Burnett exchanged initial e-mails, and Tuesday morning Wilson explained the problem and what he needed. Several of the pieces in the exhibit were supposed to be placed on melamine boards, but the boards that came as part of the show couldn’t handle the weight and buckled. Wilson sent Burnett the measurements, and the Mill shop, using sturdier, medium density fibre board, was able to get 14 new boards sized, cut, over to the Paint shop, and back to KAM by Wednesday morning, about 24 hours before the exhibit, MetaModern, opened.

    KAM
    Not only were the Mill and Paint Shops able to get the work done in 24 hours, they completed it perfectly, which, in Wilson’s experience, was particularly impressive on such short notice.

    KAM is the first stop on a six-city MetaModern  tour, so F&S’ work is not only being utilized in Champaign, but will be seen throughout the country when the exhibit travels to Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and California.


  • Surprise found in Lincoln Hall Gateway

    Feb 02, 2015

    It’s not two centuries old, like the Paul Revere time capsule recently stumbled upon in Boston, but the unearthing of a 100-year-old box in the wall of the Lincoln Hall Gateway last month is still thrilling to Melvyn Skvarla.

    time capsules in place in north gatewayA Facilities & Services planner and the university’s campus historic preservation officer, Skvarla said he is always excited to see what is inside a time capsule -- especially a time capsule no one knew existed until early January.

    “We knew there were time capsules under the Alma Mater, under a stainless steel monolith near Engineering Hall, and in the cornerstone of the original Lincoln Hall,” Skvarla said, “but this was unexpected.”

    Contract workers from the Otto Baum Company found the artifact inside a cavity of the Gateway’s walls while rebuilding the crumbling structure. The Gateway, located along Wright Street to the south and west of Lincoln Hall, was a gift from the Class of 1913 and was completed in July of that year.

    “Gateways were very popular in the 1870s through the 1920s, especially around quadrangles,” Skvarla said.

    Stuff found in old time capsuleWhen F&S project manager Grant Colella opened the 8-inch by 6-inch handmade, copper box, he immediately knew it was a time capsule and handed it over to Skvarla for investigation. The capsule contained 13 business-type cards with names on them, along with a 1912 Lincoln wheat penny, an 1894 Indian head wheat penny, and a tag with the name of the metalsmith who crafted the box.

    The name of the university’s supervising architect, James McLaren White, was on one card. Other cards had the names of who Skvarla can only guess were Gateway committee members or employees of the Operations and Maintenance Department, the predecessor of F&S. Some of the cards had printed names on them, while others featured handwritten signatures. A Japanese name was even written on one card.

     “I don’t know if he was a student, or maybe was working for F&S,” Skvarla said. “With so little documentation, it would take extensive research to find out who all those people were.”

    The original time capsule was replaced and sealed into the rebuilt Gateway’s wall on Jan. 28. With it went a new plastic box that contained all the original items, plus several additional ones, including a written history of the capsule, a 2014 penny (2015 coins are not available yet), a 2014 Homecoming button, a photo CD of all the old and new items, and business cards with the names of those involved in assembling the 2015 box.

    Because of the hand-signed cards and lack of other items, Skvalra guesses the insertion of the original time capsule was a last-minute addition to the Gateway, though he doesn’t guess why.

    “Everyone wants to be remembered,” he said, “and that’s fun and interesting to see.”