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Teachers College, Columbia University
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Milbank Chapel to Get Centennial Renovations

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Milbank Chapel to Get Centennial Renovations

Milbank Chapel circa 1900.

Milbank Chapel to Get Centennial Renovations

Rear view of Milbank Chapel and some famous faculty members taken around 1944.

Just a few years shy of its hundredth birthday, TC's Milbank Chapel is undergoing a facelift. The Chapel closed in mid-November for pre-construction that includes the safety and dust barriers that are visible in the Main Hall. It should be completed by August 2002.

"The Chapel will be renovated with as much deference to the original aesthetics as possible," said Vincent Del Bagno, Director of Capital Projects. "The existing wood details, painting, gilt work and stained glass will be cleaned and repaired, but with minimal disturbance."

The use of the Chapel will not change. It will still be a multi-purpose room, he said. The features of the room will be modernized and enhanced for everything from filming to lectures to chamber music.

"It will be considered a 'smart classroom' like The Grace Dodge Room," said Del Bagno, "but the technology will be hidden to blend in with the room's original design."

There will be some key changes, he said. The existing stage will be redesigned, the lighting will be enhanced and access for people with disabilities will be improved.

After a community consensus that the stage is too small for many of the events, Del Bagno said that the raised stage area will be removed. Lowering it will enlarge the stage area and make it more intimate with the audience.

Improvements for accessibility to students with disabilities will include a new audio-visual System for the hearing impaired. Also, a lift-covered in gothic wood paneling-will be put at the east hall door so that access is easier to the lower level. Access to upper level seating will be more convenient with the new lower stage, too.

The lighting is going to be both modernized and demodernized at the same time, said Del Bagno. Although the new lighting fixtures will look like they were part of the original design, they will have modern lighting capabilities. One of the goals is to get more "up light" on the gothic ceiling details that aren't as visible right now with the current lighting. Also, there will be new ambient lighting near the seats as well as theatrical stage lighting.

The seats will also be refurbished. The fabric on them will match the color palette of the room, he said. The woodwork and stained glass will be repaired and cleaned as well. Construction is expected to last until August.

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