Meticulous Restoration Underway at Air Force Academy Chapel | Colorado News

By DAN BOYCE, Colorado Public Radio

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The Air Force Academy chapel is among the most distinctive items of structure in Colorado.

But few folks have caught a glimpse of it for greater than a yr. That’s as a result of the complete constructing is present process an exhaustive restoration inside a 14-story “cocoon.”

And it’s not more likely to emerge any time quickly.


The greater than $150 million renovation of the Cadet Chapel at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs goes to take months — or maybe greater than a yr, longer than initially anticipated; contractors are contending with extra asbestos than they anticipated, in addition to different unexpected challenges.

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“We knew that there was significant asbestos in this building. We just couldn’t get in all the places where asbestos would be to test,” mentioned Duane Boyle, campus architect at the academy.

The undertaking started two years in the past and has required the development of an enormous white short-term enclosure across the 150-foot-tall iconic aluminum constructing. This “cocoon,” as Boyle calls it, allows crews to painstakingly right the legacy of 1 frugal design selection from the constructing’s preliminary development within the Fifties and early ’60s.

The chapel’s architect, Walter Netsch Jr., initially conceived of an elaborate gutter system to empty off rainwater falling onto the chapel. But Boyle mentioned that concept was deserted in favor of caulking all of the seals on the constructing’s community of interlocking exterior aluminum panels to chop prices.

“We had 32 miles of caulking on this building, which is kind of ridiculous when you start thinking about that,” Boyle mentioned.


The caulking didn’t stand as much as the weather of the Pikes Peak area and the chapel has suffered leaks from the time it opened. Extensive water harm over the previous six a long time led to the restoration, which entails eradicating each aluminum panel and greater than 20-thousand brick-sized stained glass blocks.

What is below the short-term constructing now could be only a large metal skeleton coated in rust-colored primer. Inside, the constructing is sort of unrecognizable. Fourteen ranges of scaffolding fill the principle Protestant Chapel.

Many of the gadgets that was inside, from the pews to the power’s two large church organs, are additionally being absolutely restored both as a consequence of water harm or disrepair.

Boyle mentioned coping with the extra asbestos contamination discovered within the chapel will push the undertaking previous its unique 2023 completion date, although he isn’t ready to estimate how for much longer it’d take.

But the plan stays the identical: finally each pew, organ pipe, aluminum panel and stained glass brick shall be refinished or meticulously recreated and put again precisely the place it was earlier than, with one necessary addition. Crews are lastly putting in Netsch’s unique drainage system to exchange the ineffective miles of caulking.

Gazing at all of the work round him, Boyle not too long ago supplied a daring evaluation of the endeavor he’s answerable for: “I think it would compete as one of the most complicated and intensive historic preservation projects of all time.”

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