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Air Force Academy chapel to close for repairs


COLORADO SPRINGS, Col._ The landmark Cadet Chapel at the Air Force Academy will close in late summer 2018 for major restoration work. The planned $68 million renovation will include removing the aluminum skin and glass removed to install a new system designed to stop the leaks that have plagued the structure since its completion in 1962.

Designed by Walter A. Netsch Jr. of Chicago, the 150-foot-tall structure features 17 triangular spires cost $3.5 million to build. The unique style was intended to remind onlookers of the mountainous backdrop of the academy and the planes flown by the Air Force. It is nationally recognized and has gained honors including the American Institute of Architect's Twenty-Five Year Award, a distinction it shares with the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and New York's Guggenheim Museum among others.

The academy estimates that the chapel draws as many as 500,000 visitors a year, making it Colorado's top man-made tourist attraction. The building is home to the main Protestant chapel, a Catholic chapel, a Jewish temple space, a Buddhist prayer room, a Muslim worship space and other areas that can be quickly converted to accommodate every faith from Hinduism to Native American rites. In addition to regular weekend services, the chapel is a favorite wedding backdrop. Officials say they will arrange alternative sites for all the faiths that use the chapel.

The work is estimated to take up to four years. Along with chapel renovations, the school is also planning to refurbish its Sijan Hall dormitory and fix Clune Arena, the school's basketball and hockey venue.

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