Conservation and Restoration of Fine Furniture and Objects
Robert F. Carr Memorial Chapel, IIT
Carr Memorial Chapel, IIT
The interior of Robert F. Carr Memorial Chapel, IIT

Carr Memorial Chapel, IIT - veneered panels before restoration
Carr Memorial Chapel, IIT - veneered panels after restoration
One of the chapel walls as seen before, then after treatment

IIT panels repair
Infilling areas of veneer loss with Dutchman patches

IIT panels - matching veneer color
Carefully toning veneer infill by hand

Bench before restoration
Bench after restoration
One of the chapel benches as seen before, then after conservation

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Robert F. Carr Memorial Chapel of St. Savior
Located at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT)
1952, Chicago, IL
Wood , Stainless Steel


CONDITION:

Designed by Mies van der Rohe, the Robert F. Carr Memorial Chapel of St. Savior is a landmark of Chicago’s spiritual – and architectural - communities. The Chapel also holds the notable distinction of being the sole building created by the legendary local architect (and one-time head of IIT’s Department of Architecture) solely for religious services. Van der Rohe’s signature “less is more” style, while lending elegant simplicity to the Chapel, simultaneously caused scars left by time to feel particularly prominent. Wood paneled walls and benches had become flawed with significant delaminating and veneer loss. Wood finishing, along with the Chapel’s rails, Travertine altar and iconic stainless steel Cross, had also dirtied with decades of grime.

TREATMENT:

The church’s historical origin and ongoing role as place of worship for numerous faiths required flawless work by Bernacki & Associates. Delaminating veneer was carefully re-attached. Dutchman patches – identical in color and tone to the original - served as infilling for areas of loss, toned for consistency and proper patina. Results of in-depth analysis determined an appropriate finish to recoat wood work. Finally, the Chapel’s stainless steel accoutrements – rails, altars, and cross – were polished. With the Chapel returned to van der Rohe’s vision, Bernacki & Associates meticulous work further echoed the architect’s famous words: “God is in the details.”

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