University of Chicago
Rockefeller Chapel Restoration
This project centered on limestone masonry restoration work on the bell tower and northern half of the University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Chapel.
Project Overview

Modeled after the cathedrals and historic chapels of the British Isles, the Rockefellar Chapel is a soaring center for ceremonial and spiritual events at the University of Chicago. Over 22 months, Berglund completed restorative repairs to chapel’s bell tower and the northern half of the structure. The work scope included restoration of the bells, limestone repairs and replacement, stained glass removal and reinstallation and roofing repairs.

Approach

The restoration began in the tower’s carillon. The university determined that the bells, which had been installed in 1932, required major restorative work. The mechanical components of the bell system had deteriorated. As a result of the original design, the bells were arranged such that the larger bells drowned out the smaller bells for passersby on the ground.

To fix these issues, Berglund’s team carefully removed 46 of the bells and shipped them to the Royal Eijsbouts foundry in the Netherlands. While the bells were being restored, Berglund tradespeople rebuilt the playing cabin to accommodate 20 visitors and installed heating and air conditioning systems. Improvements were also made to the clarion layout.

Exterior façade repairs were also made. We installed pipe scaffolding that ascended to the top of the 207-foot tower and around the northern half of the structure. Berglund masons rebuilt the tower turrets and parapet walls. We removed and re-installed all stained glass windows, and we rebuilt the surrounding limestone tracery as necessary. Finally, we oversaw the installation of a new roofing system on both the tower and the main level of the building.

Outcomes

In total, we replaced 3000 individual stone units, and Berglund tuckpointers removed old mortar and reinstalled new throughout the facade. Once our work was complete on the exterior, the bells returned from the Netherlands and we reinstalled them in the carillon.

Berglund’s team carefully removed 46 of the bells in the tower and shipped them to the Royal Eijsbouts foundry in the Nether­lands for restora­tive repairs.

From the Team
Roger Janiak

Our masons and tuck pointers are some of the best in the world. To see them in action on a project of this scale is incredible.”

Sr. Project Manager-Restoration Division