216 Prairie Street, Elgin, IL 60120
Imago Creative Studios was originally built in the 1920’s as a car dealership. The current gallery area in the front of the building was the car showroom and the rear warehouse was the service area. The building features the original brick walls and an exposed timber barrel roof made with bow truss construction – a.k.a. Bowtruss, Belfast, or BuildFast. The 14 Skylights were a part of the original building, but the glass has since been replaced.
A Belfast truss was a timber roof structure apparently designed and first used for industrial scale sheds in the town of Belfast, Ireland in the 1860’s. Such trusses were originally designed for use with tarred roofing felt laid onto timber boarding. In the early 19th century the requirement for clear span industrial buildings brought about the development of a variety of timber truss types to meet the demand for efficient wide span industrial buildings.
The resultant shape of a Belfast Truss is that of a bow-strung girder which is a close approximation to the bending moment diagram for an evenly distributed load. It is considered an economical type of truss as it makes use of material of small section, in reasonably short lengths with nailed joints. It has been suggested that the roof form developed partly in an attempt to utilize the short offcuts from the timber trade. The speed of construction of the Belfast roof had great advantages over other forms of roof construction. In America, the Belfast roof was also known as the ‘Build Fast’ roof. The speed of construction was due to the fact that it was nailed and prepared on the ground and then hoisted up into position.
In 2012, Imago took over the building and did extensive interior renovations, replacing all flooring, changing the configurations of the walls and updating the electrical and plumbing. In addition to housing the offices of Imago, the gallery and warehouse are available for event rentals and there are several shared office spaces that are rented to small businesses in the creative realm.