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January 22, 2015

Heinz Chapel: Closed but busier than ever




The view from the Cathedral of Learning lawn gives little clue as to what’s going on behind the stately red doors of Heinz Memorial Chapel this winter.

The chapel has been closed since late December and will remain closed through May while a climate control system is installed.



2Earlier this month, Valencia-based Allegheny Pipe Organ Co. oversaw the temporary removal of most of the organ pipes as a precursor to the climate control work, which will bring air conditioning to the 76-year-old Gothic-style chapel.

The University’s 2015 capital budget included $1.69 million for environmental controls at Heinz Chapel and $1.81 million to extend chilled water lines for the chapel and Bellefield Hall. (See July 24, 2014, University Times.)



David and Karen Richards of Allegheny Pipe Organ Co. use a custom-made sled to speed removal of organ pipes at Heinz Chapel. Most of the organ’s 4,272 pipes have been stored in crates to protect them while a new climate-control system is installed.

David Richards and William Siedle carefully place organ pipes into crates. Removing the copper, tin and lead pipes took Richards’ six-person4 crew a week of 12-hour days, he said.

Richards plans to return in April to reinstall the pipes and retune the chapel organ once the new climate-control system is in place. Replacing the pipes will take two-three weeks. Retuning the organ will take two or three days, but clean, quiet conditions — and a constant temperature — are required, Richards said.



The chapel will reopen for weddings in early June.


5Below: Heinz Chapel’s pews, aisles and balcony are shrouded in heavy protective plastic while climate-control work is underway.