Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel renovation extended, won’t open until 2027

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) — We’ll have to wait longer than we thought to resume seeing the iconic Cadet Chapel at the Air Force Academy.

On Thursday, officials shared an update on the progress of restoration, saying the historic building won’t open to the public until 2027.

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The project was originally set for completion in 2023 but officials now said that renovations won’t be completed until 2026.

Additionally, it’ll cost an extra $60 million — raising the price tag to $218 million — because of the required removal of additional asbestos that wasn’t discovered until a second inspection after construction began.

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“The feedback that I’ve gotten has been positive,” said Carlos Cruz-Gonzalez, the academy’s director of logistics and engineering. “People understand that a project like this takes a fair amount of time and it’s going to be disruptive. Even with the recent issue with the asbestos, people would have wanted it to open earlier. But they also understand that we’ve got to get it done.”

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The chapel closed in September 2019 for a $158 million project to repair water damage caused by leaks to caulking that sealed the chapel’s 100 aluminum panels ands 22,000 blocks of glass.

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Workers will remove the aluminum and stained glass panels to install rain gutters that were originally part of the project but were not added due to budget limits, then replace all of the panels.

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The chapel’s furniture and pipe organs also will be renovated.

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Officials said that renovations weren’t slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic because the project was considered essential work.

The chapel is enclosed under a 150-foot temporary shelter that allows renovations to continue all year long.

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“It has withstood 100 mph winds and allows us to work through all kinds of weather,” said Alex Delimont, senior project manager with JE Dunn Construction.

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In 2004, the chapel was designated as a national historic landmark. The chapel originally opened in 1962.

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“It’s not just important to Colorado Springs and the state,” said Duane Boyle, the academy’s architect. “It’s a national asset. This chapel is recognized nationally s one of America’s great pieces of architecture. And it’s recognized internationally in the same light.”

To see a virtual tour of the chapel, visit: https://www.usafa.edu/virtualtour/#.

To see photos of the chapel restoration, visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/af_academy/albums/72177720298111303/page1.