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After Years Of Water Damage, The Iconic Air Force Academy Chapel Is Closed For Repairs

 October 29, 2019 at 10:43 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 In Colorado. More tourists visit the U S air force Academy chapel than any other building in the state. The classic glass and aluminum structure just closed to the public for what's expected to be up to four years of extensive renovations. Dan boys of the American Homefront project tells us that shortcuts in its original construction have played the chapel from the beginning. Speaker 2: 00:28 [inaudible] Speaker 3: 00:28 the air force Academy's Catholic music director, Katherine Johnson, is a master of both organs inside this one iconic church downstairs in the smaller Catholic chapel and up here in the great main hall, the Protestant chapel Speaker 2: 00:44 [inaudible] Speaker 4: 00:45 you won't get to play this organ for a while. No, it's actually quite devastating to lose both my instruments for the next however long it takes. Speaker 3: 00:54 This truly massive Oregon she's playing has more than 4,000 pipes, Speaker 4: 00:58 thousands and thousands of pipes. Some of them still work [inaudible] Speaker 3: 01:03 like the Oregon. The whole chapel is stunning and failing and aluminum cavern with a vaulted triangular ceiling reaching 99 feet with six total chapels, four different faiths. It's the center of religious life on campus. It's also the Academy's best known symbol down on the floor of the main hall. It's the first time Gale frost has been inside since her son got married 11 years ago. Speaker 4: 01:28 Oh, the architecture with the spires pointing up to heaven is just, and the glasswork is so, so beautiful. Speaker 3: 01:38 The stained glass, she's talking about 24,000 brick size pieces in 24 colors, largely blues and purples mixed with touches of green, orange, red bands of this glass run up the entire height to create a web of interconnecting diamonds and all of this, all of the glass, each of the aluminum panels. It is all Speaker 2: 02:01 [inaudible] Speaker 4: 02:02 coming down. It's a sad day for a lot of us in that a, it's an old friend, Speaker 3: 02:07 air force Academy superintendent, Lieutenant general Jay Silveria was a cadet himself in the eighties our old Speaker 4: 02:13 friend, my old friend needs some help and has leaked from the day that it was open. It drips all over. Speaker 3: 02:19 Academy architects. Dwayne Boyle is heading this $158 million renovation. Speaker 4: 02:26 We had a funeral in here a few weeks ago and it was raining outside and it was extremely wet in here Speaker 3: 02:35 in the 1950s the original architect Walter nets junior, wanted a modernist re-imagining of those timeless European cathedrals flying buttresses 17 spires. All the elements are there. Only imagine Boeing built it. Speaker 4: 02:50 No, the building's been widely accepted as one of the best pieces of modernist architecture in the world. Speaker 3: 02:54 The deal with rain niche designed an elaborate network of gutters beneath the aluminum panels, but the project was over budget, so instead the air force was like, yeah, we'll just Speaker 4: 03:04 cock everything. So caulking projects, I've never worked. We spent enormous amounts of money over the last decades trying to recall it. Speaker 3: 03:11 Thus, all the leaks right next to where I'm interviewing boil, there are obvious water stains on the wall. A piece of damaged plaster once crashed down onto the floor. Speaker 4: 03:21 Just obviously a safety issue. That's a of concern Speaker 3: 03:24 right now. The Academy is pulling everything out of the chapel. Soon they will build an enormous airplane hangar over the whole thing and strip the chapel down to its steel skeleton. Then add in that original network of rain gutters, niche designed, and finally put every aluminum panel, every single piece of glass back exactly where it was as boil, perhaps understated. Speaker 4: 03:48 It's a major project Speaker 3: 03:51 up above the pews playing the organ she loves. Katherine Johnson knows it is not goodbye forever. Speaker 4: 03:57 I will get this instrument back in this beautiful space to worship in back. Eventually I just have to be patient. Speaker 3: 04:04 The air force hopes to have the cadet chapel renovation complete by November, 2022 the organs will also be restored and will sound like new in Colorado Springs. I'm Dan boys.

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The famous structure and popular tourist site will undergo a renovation project that's expected to last almost four years.
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