Chapel renovation hits milestone

March 30, 2023

The final piece of the iconic aluminum exterior of the USAFA Cadet Chapel was removed March 30 marking a transition from the demolition phase to the start of restoration. The piece was the 1,008th aluminum piece removed from the structure.

Built from 1959 to 1962, the Cadet Chapel faced water intrusion issues almost immediately. A planned interior water barrier behind the exterior aluminum was engineered out of the project as a cost-savings effort and replaced with 32 miles of asbestos caulking that did not work.

Efforts to mitigate the problem over the years concealed some Cadet Chapel architectural features from public view and did not stop continued water damage to the chapel interior.

The current project, started in 2019, is designed to permanently solve the leakage problem, repair related damage, and restore the chapel.

"As the last exterior aluminum panel is removed from the Cadet Chapel, it marks the end of the preparation process and the beginning of putting the Chapel back together, to include adding the interior water barrier that was left out of the original project," said Duane Boyle, United States Air Force Academy Architect. "Although we still have a long way to go before reopening to the public, we’re committed to getting this right, from solving the water intrusion issue, to ensuring that the building is brought back to its original design intent for the Academy, the region, and the nation to enjoy."

The project is slated to be completed in early 2027. The project, which initially was supposed to be completed in four years, ran into unexpected asbestos removal issues that has delayed its progress.

Fast facts, to date:

  • The total volume of the abatement spaces was over 1.1 million cubic feet and was completed in thirds, making each containment one of the largest individual containments in the history of the state.
  • A total of 147 dumpsters (5,880 cubic yards) of asbestos containing material was removed from the chapel.
  • More than 750,000 lbs. of dry ice was used to clean the abatement containment.
  • More than 2 million square feet of plastic sheeting and 330 miles of specialized duct tape was used in asbestos abatement work.
  • More than 37,500 protective Tyvek suits have been used for asbestos abatement work.
  • More than 400,000 man-hours have supported combined on-site efforts and off-site administrative/logistics roles off-site.
  • More than 720 people have worked directly on-site supporting restoration.