In 1876, when a group of nuns arrived in Peoria, Illinois, and began caring for patients free of charge, the city welcomed what would later become the Order of Saint Francis HealthCare (OSF). The nonprofit healthcare provider has since become the city’s largest employer. Its new headquarters provided a dual opportunity – to consolidate the firm's administrative teams and to help revitalize downtown Peoria.
To house the new headquarters, OSF selected one of the city’s most revered historic buildings. The stately edifice, originally designed by Holabird and Roche, started life in 1905 as the Schipper & Block department store. The city’s first steel-framed structure, it employed top-of-the-line technology, with massive floor-to-ceiling heights, a stunning white terra-cotta façade and, later, the city’s first escalator. The seven-story “Big White Store” was the tallest structure in Peoria at the time. But as the downtown population began migrating to the suburbs, it was subdivided and eventually totally vacated.
Our renewal, façade and sustainability teams worked with architects from Dewberry to transform the abandoned department store into an elegant suite of administrative offices.
The project benefits the surrounding community in multiple ways. All contractors employed on the renovation were local. And when fully operational, the new OSF headquarters will bring about 700 people into Peoria’s downtown every day, helping reinvigorate the area both socially and economically.
- Restoration of the historic façade repaired damaged portions and recreated missing original material.
- During our initial investigation, we used drones instead of scaffolding to acquire close-up photos of the exterior walls. The high-resolution images helped the design team identify areas of deterioration and were used to create a 3D model of existing conditions.
- During design, we collaborated closely with replica product manufacturers to minimize the length of construction and to provide consistency across the building façades, which were originally constructed over multiple phases.
- Glass-fiber-reinforced concrete (GFRC) replicated the original terra-cotta spandrel panels, which had been destroyed. This unitized approach enabled the contractor to construct masonry backup walls to ensure a weather-tight enclosure during construction.
- To preserve the look of the building’s exterior, satisfy today’s more stringent building codes, and accommodate variations in the sizes and shapes of the original window openings, we designed new, custom-made aluminum windows.
- We collaborated with the replacement window manufacturer to engineer the aluminum replica windows to match the original minimal original frame and glass pane sizes while meeting current wind loads and performance requirements.
- Our hygrothermal analysis identified areas where moisture could become trapped, guiding our placement of insulation within the building envelope to improve its energy performance.
- Our personnel experienced in historic-materials repair developed a full restoration program, including cleaning of the original terra-cotta and masonry materials.