Construction of Christ Chapel continues to progress smoothly, with the walls now going up.
After four years of extensive planning and fundraising, Chief Administrative Officer Rich Péwé said the chapel is on schedule to be completed by commencement 2019. With a few exceptions, the project has advanced smoothly.
“Of course there have been delays and setbacks, but adjustments are constantly being made by the team to overcome those problems and stay on schedule,” Péwé said in an email. “Sometimes that requires creativity and working out of sequence. But there has been nothing that is a major issue.”
The construction team, led by Weigand Construction and Mark Schollenberger, who oversaw renovations to the Roche Sports Complex in 2014, has thought through every obstacle that might arise, Péwé told The Collegian in a past interview. The team is working to move quickly and efficiently but in the safest way possible.
Architect Duncan Stroik, the mind behind the blueprints, said it is thrilling to watch his blueprints come to life. Stroik said his team sought to capture the essence of Hillsdale College and its mission.
“Every project of ours has unique requirements, and at Hillsdale, there is a great love of the Anglo-American architectural tradition as well as a love of your campus,” Stroik said in an email. “We have sought to bring those two things together in order to design a chapel that we hope will look like it has always been there while being strikingly innovative.”
The construction team recently finished connecting the chapel to campus heating and air conditioning by creating a utility tunnel. Stroik said this took careful planning and ingenuity, since the tunnel was constructed while allowing water, sewer, and other existing lines to bypass each other.
“Things were discovered about Grewcock during construction — as they always are,” Stroik said in an email. “Solutions were developed to solve the issues. Very creative, very exciting, and eventually, very hidden.”
Péwé said no significant changes to Stroik’s original plans have been made. Once completed, Christ Chapel will have room for up to 1,400 people, providing space for convocations; orchestral, choir, and other musical performances; major lectures; and commencement.
Stroik said he is most looking forward to the chapel’s circular portico with a brick dome — one of the first of its kind in 50 years — and the nave with 25-foot Doric limestone columns, which will support the balconies and roof.
“In their simplicity and ruggedness, they give a gravitas to the house of God,” Stroik said.
Péwé praised Stroik and his architectural team, saying his eye for detail has aided the project.
“Duncan Stroik and his team are talented architects,” Péwé said. “They consistently take great care to get the details just right. The quality and the detail of his drawings and those of his team are exemplary.”
President Larry Arnn said anticipation continues to build as construction progresses. Coupled with renderings, the chapel is becoming impressive to visitors and friends of the college as it takes shape, he said.
“So far, the construction is ugly,” Arnn said in an email. “But the first hints of excitement emerge.”