Spotlight Projects

  • Shops aid amphibian display

    Aug 06, 2019


    F&S crafts and trades services help handle thousands of projects each year across the Urbana campus, but this one is older and rarer than usual: the plaster cast of a 300-million-year old amphibian species called eryops.

    The installation of the eryops at the Natural History Building required the capabilities of multiple F&S shops: the painters, mill workers, ironworkers, and machinists. Painters worked on the surrounding gallery walls, while the mill workers designed and built custom wooden exhibit furniture and casework, and the ironworkers designed mounting solutions and assisted with the moving of large and heavy display artifacts. The machinists made adjustable mounts designed to brace various points of the plaster creature. 

    “Our shop does such a wide variety of things here at the university that we come to expect this sort of thing,” said Stuart De Haro, machinists foreman. De Haro oversaw a team of Jerry Donaldson, Rocky Atwood, Chris McCoy to help make new easily adjustable supports for the skull and spine of the eryops. “One day we might be rebuilding a pump, the next we could be on a roof, the next we might be making lab equipment. It is different every day, and that’s how we like it. It was a fun project and one that I talk about often now when people ask about the type of work we do here in the machine shop.”

    Mill shop foreman Andy Burnett assigned the work to millworker Scott Schmidt, who helped make the custom wood display case.

    “Honestly, this is the type of work we do a lot of,” said Burnett. “Custom display cases sized to fit different objects or certificates are what we do. We have done displays for Olympic medals, Illini baseball memorabilia, rare books, and numerous sports trophy cases, to name a few.”

    Ironworker Ron Cler acknowledged the attention to detailed needed in helping complete the project, adding, “It was a very interesting project! Extreme care had to be used. I was comfortable, maybe a little nervous, but not too bad. It was fun working on this project and it’s a good conversation topic to discuss at family gatherings.”

    Gavin Robinson, collections storage coordinator at Spurlock Museum of World Cultures said, “We advised F&S on ideal mounting methods for a plaster cast. Specifically, that it be easily adjustable and minimally visible. They were very responsive to our suggestions and critiques throughout the design process and also assisted with mount installation.

    “We have an excellent working relationship with the many talented F&S staff from various shops.

  • NHB Earns LEED Gold Certification

    Feb 11, 2019

    Natural History Building

    The Natural History Building has earned prominent distinction for energy efficiency and environmentally friendly construction practices in the wake of a recent $79 million renovation. For more information read the news release from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.
  • Mill Shop making collaboration easier

    Nov 15, 2017
    Collaboration Table

    Most people have gathered around a dinner table, but a “collaboration table?” Maybe not so much.

    This fall, the Facilities & Services Mill produced six such tables for the Main Library. The units allows students to assemble around a desktop and easily share technology, as well as ideas. The base holds a computer tower and other electronic components, while the top features a shared monitor and data and power connections.

    “We can make these tables for about half of what some vendors sell them for, and we can make them to match the existing furniture and surroundings,” said Mill Foreman Andy Burnett.

    Since 2008 when the Mill created its first collaboration table, Burnett estimates his shop has manufactured more than 50 units, mostly for the various libraries on campus, but he and his six-member staff can build them to fit anywhere.

    “It’s been an evolving design over the years,” Burnett said, “because we can design and give the customer exactly what they want.”

    For years, millworkers have been creating unique, affordable woodwork for the University of Illinois. Cabinets, desks, display cases, podiums, benches, doors, windows, picture frames, lab tables and just about anything else you can think of are designed and crafted in their busy shop on the north end of the Physical Plant Service Building. Several other shops also may provide assistance with the projects, depending on their design.

    To find out more about what the Mill Shop can do for you or to get a free estimate, contact the F&S Service Office at 333-3040.