Document Competition 2016 – Second Place, Small Projects

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September 2, 2016

Douglas Arena, AIA | Bell & Spina Architects | Colgate University Memorial Chapel | Hamilton, New York

Colgate Chapel
Colgate University Memorial Chapel

Built in 1917, Colgate Memorial Chapel is the centerpiece of the academic quad on the campus of Colgate University, used for interfaith church services, convocations, concerts, and lectures. The façade features ashlar bluestone with a neoclassical limestone gabled pediment. The cupola and gilded dome are visible features on campus and in the village of Hamilton, New York.

Cupola Drawing
Cupola Drawing. (Click image to enlarge.)

Bell & Spina Architects was retained to design replacement of all of the original wood double-hung windows. The original single-glazed divided-lite wood-sash windows were drafty in the winter and hot in the summer, and most did not fully open or close. The building has no air- conditioning and relies on the windows to help cool and ventilate the large sanctuary and office spaces. In the 1970’s, a pipe organ was installed in the back of the sanctuary space that concealed a prominent original Palladian-style window unit.

sill detail drawing
Typical sill detail. (Click image to enlarge.)

The scope of work included replacement of all original windows with high-performance historical wood sash units with insulated glass and interior/exterior simulated divided lites. The exterior casing style was replicated with a custom prefinished aluminum casing to match the original ogee profile. Six original windows that were boarded over in a 1970 renovation project were restored with simulated window units and insulated panels. The Palladian window unit behind the pipe organ was replaced with a historically faithful simulated divided lite unit with colored opaque glass to obscure the infill paneling behind the pipe organ. The iconic cupola windows were also replaced. Work on the building was required to be completed over the two summer months when the chapel was closed and the campus was sparsely populated.

Interior of chapel
The chapel during a candlelight service.

The new windows have significantly improved the comfort level of the sanctuary space and improved the natural ventilation in the building, all while remaining faithful to the architecture of the original building.