Background

Built at the turn of the 20th century, the historic Beaumont Mill employed many Spartanburg, S.C., residents to manufacture cotton textiles, so after the mill closed in 1997 the community wanted to preserve it. Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System decided to renovate the building as the new home to its administrative departments, which previously were located in separate buildings around the city.

Challenge: A Deep Dark Space

The original mill building was very deep and light didn’t penetrate very far into the interior.
The original mill building was very deep and light didn’t penetrate very far into the interior.

The mill began as two separate, parallel buildings that were connected to create one massive manufacturing facility. The combined buildings created a deep, dark space.

“From an architectural perspective, being a corporate office and knowing that people would be in the building for long hours, we were concerned about daylight,” says Sara Robinson, AIA, the architect with McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture who oversaw the project. “Light from windows along the exterior wall didn’t penetrate very deep.”

The architects knew skylights would be an ideal solution, both on a functional and a symbolic level, by placing them in the roof over the space that connected the two original buildings.

“We made the joining space a central hub defined by natural light from the skylights,” Robinson says. “We symbolically divided the space to reference the original two buildings and by cutting light wells in the second floor, daylight extends all the way to the ground floor.”

Interior walls have storefront windows, allowing light from the skylights to spill into adjacent offices.

Skylights line the building’s central corridor and light spills through storefront windows of interior offices.
Skylights line the building’s central corridor and light spills through storefront windows of interior offices.

Solution: Velux Modular Skylights (VMS) – Longlight

The VMS system was the most cost-effective skylight solution.

The architects used standard size skylight units in the Longlight configuration, even though the former mill building has irregular roof structure dimensions.

“The Velux design team was good at looking at each opening to make sure we got the best fit,” Robinson said. “The standard size skylight unit fit and that helped to save money.”

90 Skylight Units Installed in Two Days

A series of Longlights span the center of the roof.
A series of Longlights span the center of the roof.

JP Ross & Co. installed 90 skylight units on pre-built curbs in just five hours. Only two people were needed to attach claddings and flashings. Traditional, site-built skylights would have taken at least two weeks to install.

“With their plug-and-play installation method, VELUX has found a way to significantly increase the speed of installation without jeopardizing the integrity of the overall system,” says Jason Peterson with JP Ross & Co. “Using VMS drastically decreases the cost of installing a structural skylight system.”

Architects created an open second floor to allow daylight to reach the first-floor central corridor.
Architects created an open second floor to allow daylight to reach the first-floor central corridor.

An Uplifting Workspace

Daylight fills the central corridor and employees who used to rely on phone calls and email to collaborate now feel truly part of one, unified team.

“The building was designed with light and open gathering spots in mind,” says Ken Meinke, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System's Chief Financial Officer. “When working with the architects, we wanted to retain the charm and historic feel of the building, but also make it bright for our associates working here so they would feel a sense of community as they worked.”