The project involved the restoration and systems upgrade of St. Paul’s Chapel, revered as the longest standing church and the oldest public building in continuous use in New York City. Designed by architect Thomas Bean and constructed in 1766, St. Paul’s and its hallowed history extends from its attendance by George Washington in 1789 to its role as a triage and support center upon the fall of the twin towers across Church Street on 9/11/2001.

In anticipation of celebrating 250 years of continuous use of the chapel in 2016, the Episcopal Church undertook a comprehensive upgrade of the building. MBB‘s work comprised planning, restoration, renovation, and systems retrofit, all subject to preservation standards. Restoration of the interior included cleaning, plaster stabilization, wood restoration, and monuments conservation in conjunction with a project to conserve stained glass. The repainting of the sanctuary involved paint chip analysis and study of historic Georgian era colors, which guided a new palette of nuanced white hues. MBB’s retrofit of a new comprehensive HVAC system involved fitting the components into tight, unused spaces in the bell tower and between the balcony floors and the ceiling in the sanctuary; completely concealed, the new system has no visual impact on the church’s historic 18th century architecture. MBB’s master plan for the chapel’s interior spaces addressed programmatic changes, which included removing the nave pews, which opened up the sanctuary to multiple seating arrangements. Flexible seating allows congregates to face one another, and accommodates events hosted by St. Paul’s--concerts, dance performances, film screenings, readings, and community meetings, as well as Jewish congregation worship--in its magnanimous role in the life of the city.

 Photography: Whitney Cox