$12M renovation planned for UD chapel

Iconic campus centerpiece was first constructed in 1869.

The Immaculate Conception Chapel at the University of Dayton, a centerpiece of the campus that was built in 1869, will undergo a $12 million renovation that will keep its iconic cupola and look, but add more function and warmth.

Plans, which have not been finalized, now call for an addition to be constructed on the south side of the historic chapel to add restrooms, a bride’s room, a reconciliation room and support space.

Wooden pews and kneelers will be installed and the windows in the nave will be replaced to match the traditional style of those behind the alter. Among other updates, the 18-foot wooden doors will be refitted so they can serve as the main entrance to the chapel, according to the university.

Work is expected to begin next August, but first UD must raise the final $1 million for the project.

“We want a beautiful space and place for God,” said the Rev. James Fitz, vice president for mission and rector.

The chapel has not undergone a renovation since the 1970s, Fitz said.

The university has adjusted its vision for the chapel since it last discussed an update in 2008. At that time, UD would have doubled the seating capacity to 500 with an expansion. Instead, the university has now formed a partnership with Holy Angels Church to use the Brown Street church if a larger space is needed.

The project moved much closer to its $12 million goal with a recent $3 million gift from an anonymous donor, according to UD. The university expects to have renderings of the renovations available in January.

UD says the project will be LEED certified, the designation given buildings that efficiently use resources and emphasize sustainability. The lighting, heating and cooling, sound and other mechanical systems will also be updated, according to UD. The building will be made handicap accessible and a baptismal font will be added near the entrance.

A glass wall just inside the front doors will also help to create a vestibule for gathering space.

UD alumnus Cindy Obringer said for 30 years she has sat in services, weddings, baptisms and other events and dreamed of what the chapel could become. She said such events bring together students and alumni.

Masses and weddings at the chapel will be suspended during construction, which will take roughly a year. UD expects to resume services and rededicate the chapel in August 2015.

Brightman & Mitchell Architects of Dayton are creating the design, and also worked in the area on St. Helen’s Church and Ascension Catholic Church, according to UD. Kenneth Griesemer is also consulting with UD to ensure the chapel is renovated to meet requirements in church documents for space, flow and function, the university said.

For more information on the project, go online to your.udayton.edu/chapel.

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