The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown is familiar ground for “Joe” Dickey Electric. The company serves as the main electrical contractor for maintenance at the museum. In addition, since June 2022, the North Lima-based electrical contractor has been onsite building the new Vincent and Phyllis Bacon Wing.
It features a window wall facing Wick Avenue showcasing a French, ceramic mural that recently moved to Youngstown from Howland. The mural lights up at night, and the installation and control center for it was Dickey Electric’s responsibility.
Spotlighting the mural and main ceiling fixture
Ray Boila is Dickey Electric’s project manager for the Butler addition. He says lighting up the mural took a lot of attention to detail and creativity because of the complex wiring. It entails long, narrow panels of small lights that shine on the piece from where the widow meets the wall.
On the ceiling in the main room, Dickey Electric was also assigned to create a special lighting fixture.
“This thing came in three, straight pieces, so we had to bend them into the shapes that are up there now,” Boila said.
He says the bulbs were like flexible, rubber hose. A local architect gave Dickey Electric the design idea. Then, it was put together on the floor, and once finished, carefully hoisted to the ceiling for installation. The extremely high ceiling and large-scale walls allow for art pieces that won’t fit in other galleries.
Secret on the lower level
The main level is the highlight of the addition, but it’s just a portion of the work. Boila noted the deep hole that had to be dug out before construction started.
“You wouldn’t believe, just looking at the structure, how far underground you really are when you leave the main floor,” Boila said. “It’s amazing what had to be done to make this work.”
On the lower level, there’s another large room that will feature artwork. Dickey Electric configured the wiring, outlets and lighting for this section. For the electricians and other contractors on the job, a notched-out section in the wall is the key pathway for all utilities in the addition.
“Everything for the electric, steam lines, plumbing and whatever else is running through that panel,” Boila said.
Even the fire alarm system was intricate work. Dickey Electric partnered with Grunau Company, of Boardman. The two companies often work together.
Routing the master power panel
The brain powering all the lighting for the addition is in the basement. The panel turns everything on and off, as well as operates the colored lights for the mural. Boila says an additional box was also put in for support.
“All the wiring for everything that runs down that notch in the wall on the lower level comes down into the basement and then runs across the ceiling to the main power panel for the entire building,” Boila said.
He said Ohio Edison was involved when moving the service for the addition and running the high voltage wire. A generator kept the building up and running during that time because the artwork must be kept at a set temperature.
LED equals overall savings
The entire project is 100% LED lighting. Boila says this saves money and energy when taking on a project of this magnitude. It’s also much cooler lighting which is important for protecting the artwork.
“If incandescent or high output lamps were used, there would be a need for double the service size and three-times the wiring,” Boila said.
He says not only would that add to the initial cost, but it would cost more to operate and maintain. Dickey Electric projects the LED technology cuts the costs in as much as half.
Changes and overcoming challenges
Boila says much of the project was working something new into something old and adjusting as needed.
“Once the initial blueprint is done, if there’s a change, you have to update the blueprint and resubmit for inspectors. They only know what they’re given, so it has to be the same when they do the final check, and then hopefully everything passes,” Boila said.
He says having experienced electricians is always beneficial when doing challenging projects.
“We know how to handle the big changes, and anyone can rely on contractors who are proven in their field,” Boila said.
The new addition at the Butler is scheduled to open to the public in mid-April.
Dickey Electric is a member contractor of NECA-IBEW Electricians, an association of IBEW Local 64 in Youngstown, IBEW Local 573 in Warren and signatory electrical contractors throughout the Mahoning Valley.