Chapel renovations to start after $3 million in pledges

Chapel renovations to start after $3 million in pledges
The northwest corner of the chapel as shown in the building renovation rendering. The addition includes a patio that connects to a multipurpose room. Photo courtesy of Koch Hazard Architects.

Pastor Ann Rosendale calls the chapel the heart of campus. It’s a reflection of Augustana’s Christian core values. Though it hasn’t seen any major changes since it was built in 1981, the Chapel of Reconciliation will get its chance at a renovation as part of Augustana Viking Bold Vision 2030.

After a feasibility study that confirmed donor interest, an official rendering of the renovations was drafted that includes $3 million of changes. Over half of the goal has already been pledged, and none of the money will come from student tuition.

The proposed renovations will expand the chapel while still keeping the original footprint of the building. Most changes include new windows in the sanctuary and an open-concept addition on the east side of the building.

“I’m really glad about the ways that the project is opening up the space,” Rosendale said. “It’s making it more welcoming, inviting and hospitable. And that’s something that we haven’t had in the chapel in its current form because there’s not a lot of natural light coming into the space.”

The focus on lighting will continue into a new gathering space for students. A proposed narthex would take up the current entryway and extend back to where the offices are on the southern side of the building. This area acts as a gathering space to reduce traffic before and after chapel services.

“It is a little bit closed off and it can be intimidating,” Rosendale said. “You don’t know what’s going on in here. You can’t see in. People can’t see out. So I’m thrilled for the way that it’s opening up the space and making it more inviting.”

The building will be expanded further west with the addition of a multipurpose room that has an open concept connection to the narthex. Bathrooms, a meeting room and some offices will fill out the southwestern section of the building.

“While it’s all well and fine to just have a smaller lobby lead to the huge sanctuary, an expansion of that lobby is the kind of bigger that’s still better,” second year Augie Access student and chapel service coordinator Madelyn Nadeau said.

The current plan has a door that leads from the multipurpose room to a new patio to create additional space for students outside of the sanctuary.

“I am excited to see the chapel grow into a more modern space to accommodate the advancing look of campus as well as fulfill the Vision 2030 dream,” junior campus ministry president and co-coordinator Heidi Peterson said. “Every part of this beautiful renovation is truly a gift from God, and I am excited to see all that He does to help us continue to build a kingdom on campus.”

Rosendale said the patio will offer a natural flow between the Commons and the chapel.

“I think people will linger longer,” Rosendale said. “I think it will foster more conversation between students and their classmates, between students and faculty, between faculty and staff. I just think the space will function better in terms of giving people space to linger longer.”

Because the renovations are still in the process of finding donors, current students may not see the changes to campus during their time at Augustana.

“Though this is a small disheartenment, it’ll be good to know that this is happening at all,” Nadeau said. “It’d be a great excuse to come back to campus when opportune. But moreso, future classes can appreciate a new chapter of the ministry that I still got to see the buildup for.”

Groundbreaking will be set for sometime after the $3 million has been pledged. Summer 2023 is the earliest estimate that students have been given for a proposed renovation start date.

“I can’t wait,” Rosendale said. “What a day that will be. We have broken ground on a number of exciting and important projects in other parts of campus, and it just feels right and good that we too would give this space attention as it is the heart of campus.”

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