Renovations Planned for St. William and Copley Crypt chapels

September 29, 2017

The university has unveiled initial designs for renovations to St. William and Copley Crypt chapels. The new changes should help prevent water damage and improve liturgical life in the chapels.   

Sonia Jarboe, an architect with GBR Architects, described the planned changes for the chapels at an open meeting Sept. 13. Exterior plans include waterproofing the exterior of Copley to prevent water damage, repairing the wheelchair ramp to Copley Crypt Chapel, installing more exterior lighting, replacing the cast-iron cross, and adding decorative handrails.

Plans inside Copley Crypt Chapel include an iconostasis, a portable wall of icons used in Orthodox liturgy. The plans also call for new flooring, brighter lights, and the removal of the current heating units to be replaced by radiators already under the walls of the chapel.

The plans for St. William Chapel include new porcelain flooring with a prayer labyrinth, chairs, and a heating, ventilation, and air condition system.

A sacrarium, a drain used for sacramental objects which flows directly into the ground, is also planned in each chapel.

The chapels were last renovated in 1996. Director of Music, Liturgy, and Catholic Life Jim Wickman said the need for new renovations is clear. “Down here in Copley, it’s a beautiful space, but even just looking around you see a lot of issues that need to be addressed like stains on the walls, heating and air conditioning, and lighting,” he said.

The university has not yet determined the project’s total cost. Assistant Vice President of Design and Construction Gina Bleck said a feasibility study determined an initial price, but it would no longer be accurate.

“As you get into it, you find more things that need to be done so since it was priced, things have been added,” Jarboe elaborated.

The university has also not yet chosen a start date. “We won’t start construction until we have all the funds in hand,” Bleck said.

The university is expecting the renovations to take several months but will not have an exact timeline until they consult contractors. Jarboe said some of the renovations, like work on windows in Copley dorm rooms, will have to take place over the summer.

Talks about renovations began last year, but stopped for several month until resuming this past summer. Representatives from the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant chaplaincies have participated throughout the process.

The university has not determined how the renovations will impact liturgical life in the chapels, but a variety of services are held in them each week. Catholic Chaplaincy holds nightly mass in Copley Crypt Monday through Thursday. The Orthodox Chaplaincy also has a weekly vespers there. A Episcopal-Lutheran service also takes place weekly in Copley Crypt Chapel, and  Protestant Ministry holds several weekly services in St. William Chapel.

Chaplain-in-residence Brad Seligmann said he was relieved after hearing the architect discuss the current proposal.

“Accommodating multiple different traditions in a single space is a very challenging task,” he said. “I think they’ve got a great plan as the plan stands right now to actually please a lot of people a lot of the time.”

Image Credit: Isaiah Seibert

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