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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.

Air Force Academy

"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.

Air Force Academy

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.

Air Force Academy

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

Air Force Academy

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.

Air Force Academy

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.

Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.

Comments

15 Comments

  1. Another channel is reporting the chapel won’t be ready to reopen until 2027. It that much time they could have torn it down and totally rebuilt it using modern materials and techniques and it could still look the same.

    1. I was going to say the same thing!!!! For $218 million and 8 years they could have built 2!

      1. I’m curious how long it took to be built originally. It was before my time in Colorado Springs, but I’m betting it didn’t take as long as this renovation. And I’m sure it didn’t cost as much, even converting to today’s dollars.

    2. Tearing down and totally rebuilding is NOT an option with regards to national historical landmarks. Existing materials/structures must be re-used/refurbished to the MAXIMUM extent possible.

  2. Who is policing the renovation work? It sounds like yet another government contract that has gone completely out-of-hand, with ridiculous overruns in both time and money. Other than statements from those doing to work, is there any oversight to ensure that the additional money and time are actually needed? $60 Million seems like a heck of a lot to remove ADDITIONAL asbestos found. It’s not like there was none expected, so that must be really expensive asbestos.

    1. It’s the mitigation requirements related to asbestos removal that jack up the costs. This is not a job that any Joe Schmoe can perform – it requires specialized training and equipment, and all the debris must be disposed of in accordance with HAZMAT regulations.

        1. Nice try, but NO, I am not in that line of work. I have no asbestos remediation training, nor do I have any desire to receive that training. I am a military satellite telecommunications specialist, with over 36 years of operational experience. I also have seven years of oilfield experience (Halliburton) as well as my first 21 years on the family farm/ranch in NE Colorado.

      1. LOL…. asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. I used to see chunks of it in rock form on the ground in the mountains where I grew up.

        1. they used to wrap the hot water/heating pipes with asbestos in my catholic elementary. We used to break chunks off and use them for chalk outside.

        2. Just because a mineral occurs naturally doesn’t mean that it’s safe to handle or fool around with. Other naturally occurring minerals that are equally dangerous/hazardous include Cinnabar (main source of mercury since Neolithic times), @rsenopyrite and Realgar (@rsenic sources), and Galena (primary source of lead).

    2. All government contracts are out of control. Nothing can be done about it either. They are milking the taxpayer and laughing all the way to the bank. See the big grins on their faces. They knew before the contract was finalized they would find a way to get more money.

  3. Thank goodness it isn’t a VA hospital – as that would have cost at least $1 billion.

  4. $60 ml for ADDITIONAL asbestos abatement?
    Someone made a lifetime career out of this remodel.
    with YOUR money.

    1. Lots of shortcuts and/or workarounds taken during the initial construction to keep costs down. It also sounds like poor containment when the asbestos was initially installed, which has apparently allowed asbestos to migrate to other parts of the structure. As shown here, building renovations/restorations can be an absolute nightmare!

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