An interior view of the plans for Christ Chapel. Sheila Butler | Courtesy

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.”

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Kaylee McGhee
Kaylee McGhee is a senior at Hillsdale College, majoring in Politics with a minor in Journalism. This is her fourth year writing for the Collegian and she serves as the paper's Opinions Editor. Kaylee worked in Washington D.C. last year and wrote for the Weekly Standard. Her work has also appeared in the Detroit News and the Orange County Register. Follow her on Twitter: @KayleeDMcGhee email: