The restoration process of the Chapel of the Resurrection has officially begun. Work on this centerpiece of campus was set in motion immediately following Valparaiso University’s May 20 Commencement and will continue through August. This summer long project will aim to improve three main areas: The Chapel nave clear glass windows, the heating system, and the organ and its pipes.
Projected to be finished by the University’s August Convocation, the project will occur in three steps. First, the restoration crews will work to replace the clear windows along either side of the Chapel nave. Second, the Chapel will receive a new heating system that will be better equipped for future improvements and will allow for an enhanced regulation of moisture.
Work done to the Chapel organ is a part of a donation separate from the replacement of the windows and the heating, but its pipes and the inner part of the organ will undergo cleaning and tuning during the same construction time period.
Replicating frames. Fashioning duplicate latches. Matching paint. Sanding, Bondo-ing, and sealing. Who knew replacing windows had so many steps? The process of putting new clear glass windows in the Chapel nave involves a variety of intricate details, all aimed toward the preservation of the time period and style in which the facility was built.
During the installation process of the windows, the Chapel has transformed from a place of solitude to one filled with sounds. The hum of saws, the pounding of hammers, and the shouts of restoration workers echo throughout the Resurrection Meadow and the areas between the Christopher Center and the Harre Union. Enclosed by an orange construction fence, the Chapel is inaccessible for safety purposes, as it is surrounded by blue bucket lifts for the workers to reach the tall prism-like windows. Boards hold the spot where windows once were, functioning as a placeholder until the new ones are installed.
For reasons similar to the purpose of the new heating system, the windows are necessary to the improvements being made to the Chapel as they will be replaced with thermal panes, which will allow for greater energy efficiency. These new frames will prevent moisture from seeping into the nave, preventing weathering within the Chapel. The windows will conserve energy because the new panes will inhibit heat to be released from the building, and will ward off cold air and other unfavorable conditions from making its way into the facility. In previous years, the Chapel had encountered a few issues with water leaking into the nave and these new windows will hopefully hinder such problems from happening in the future.
The effective nature of these new frames is attributed to its multiphase installation process. First the frames are sanded down, and then a layer of a Bondo-type product is spread across the metal border where it is needed. It is essential that a thin layer of this putty material be applied in order for it to achieve a durable state. Once this layer had been laid, then the windows are installed into the frame. In addition to this tight seal, the latches are crucial to its weather-resistant quality. Made from a mold of the previous ones, the latches are replicas of the originals but will better hold the windows shut in order to attain optimal effectiveness.
Twenty-four years have passed since significant improvements have been made to the Chapel. In 1988, the outside of the windows and the wood within the chapel was painted in order to overcome the bluish gray paint degradation due to ultraviolet rays. During the restoration process, the structural steel opening that will hold the new windows will be repainted, however, they first must undergo the steps to finding an accurate replica of the color that was used previously. Representative of the original color used when the Chapel opened in 1959, the new windows and the structural steel opening is being painted to match the color that was used originally. This replica will be made of a more advanced kind of paint, resistant to fading and will be more durable for the years to come. Since the replication process began, the contractors have had to match the paint three times, applying the samples to one of the frames in order to test each one. The first choice was not the correct color match and the second was not the precise gloss and possessed an inaccurate sheen-like quality. The third time was a charm, matching the exact color and sheen.
All of these intricacies are fundamental for the restoration process in order to maintain the overall time period and style of the Chapel. The following steps will include the same attention to detail as the University aims to preserve this beloved part of campus.