Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

Location: Springfield, Illinois
Original Construction Date: 1927
Awards: 2010 FAITH + FORM Religious Architecture-Restoration Honor Design Award
Capacity: 845
Project Timeline: 2008-2009

Built in 1927, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is a blend of an “American” exterior and a “Roman” interior, modeled after the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. Ornate interior features include a coffered ceiling, fluted scagliola columns, low relief floral panels, and abundant imagery of the griffin.

Nearly 100 years later, the cathedral was showing its age: dirt and candle soot, deteriorating columns, and urgently in need of liturgical renewal and accessibility updates.

In 2008, major interior and exterior renewals and restorations began with great care expended to appreciate and enhance the existing work. In addition to necessary mechanical, roof, façade, and landscape improvements, great attention to architectural detail also went into the project: color-matching and toning, tromp l’oeil pattern recreation, and gold leaf application. The project also included adding a new 3,500 square foot atrium nestled between the cathedral and the adjoining school.

Of note are the new downlights and acoustical panels, designed by G&H, strategically hidden behind selected canvas ceiling panels. New liturgical elements, including a new altar, side shrines, and an immersion baptismal font, were created to complement the existing liturgical norms.

The site was reorganized to make all buildings more welcoming through an extended portico and larger gathering areas including the new atrium whose interior finishes were designed to unify the old and new spaces. With the updates, most areas are now also ADA-accessible.