The Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture (IFRAA) and Faith & Form magazine have presented a 2010 Honor Design Award to Conrad Schmitt Studios Inc. for the studio’s restoration work at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Springfield, Ill.
The award was presented in the category of Religious Architecture—Restoration. The international awards program for religious art and architecture was founded in 1978 with the goal of honoring the best in architecture, liturgical design and art for religious spaces, Conrad Schmitt Studios said in announcing the award.
Originally built in 1927, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was inspired by the design of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. The architecture features a coffered ceiling, fluted scagliola columns, low-relief floral panels, and abundant imagery of the gryphon, an allusion to the Springfield Diocese’s spiritual leader at the time of construction, Bishop James A. Griffin. Gryphon is the Greek version of griffin, a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle.
Over time, enormous scagliola columns had yellowed and cracked. Deteriorated decoration, coated with dirt and candle soot, indicated that the cathedral was cleaned and painted only one time since its construction, in the late 1950s, Conrad Schmitt studios said in describing its restoration work.
“Today, 18 colors enliven the cathedral’s architectural elements,” the firm said, adding that its artists created and installed 190 canvas panels in the ceiling coffers, each with a nine-layer stencil of leaf, paints and lacquers, creating a three-dimensional rosette motif reminiscent of the ceiling of the Santa Maria. Glazing and more than 9,000 square feet of 23-karat gold leaf applied to the relief panel, frieze, ceiling and ornamentation create depth and dimension, the studio said.
The studio’s work for The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception also won a 2010 PIPP (Picture It Painted Professionally) award from The Painting and Decorating Contractors of America.
Conrad Schmitt Studios, based in New Berlin, Wis., and founded 120 years ago, creates, decorates, restores, and conserves building interiors and art glass throughout the country. The studio’s experienced group of artists, craftsman and project managers are led by President B. Gunar Gruenke and Vice President Heidi Gruenke Emery.