Chapel House

Chapel House is a 1959 International Style building on the campus of Colgate University in upstate New York designed by J. Walter Severinghaus of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Built at a time when energy costs were low, the original Chapel House design needed updates to improve its energy profile.

C&H was selected to execute a series of upgrades and renovations to improve building energy performance, as well as assure accessibility for all users while maintaining the buildings original architectural integrity.

Nestled into a wooded hillside, this building was designed to serve as a place for solitude and spiritual reflection. It houses a non-denominational chapel, library, music room, and overnight accommodations for guests from both within and without the University community.

Throughout the work, C&H facilitated a dialog with stakeholders to assure that the unique character of Chapel House is preserved for posterity.

Project Details

  • Replacement of existing mechanicals with a geothermal heat pump that provides both heating and cooling to the entire building.
  • Fresh air will be provided to all rooms via an Energy Recovery Ventilator, which reclaims conditioning energy from inside air before it is exhausted.
  • The existing curtain wall system will be replaced with a modern high performance assembly to minimize heat loss and thermal bridging.
  • Roof replacement with improved drainage and increased insulation.


  • A new addition on the inconspicuous north facade will house an elevator and lobby, greatly improving the accessibility of the building.
  • New accessible guest suite will allow universal access to retreats at Chapel House.
  • Two new ADA restrooms on the main floor provide facilities for all visitors and staff.
  • Reconfiguration of the main level to locate the dining room for good daylighting.

Project Team


C&H Architects

General Contractor

Structural Engineer & Landscape Architect

Mechanical Engineer

Interior Design

Lighting Design

Owner’s Commissioning

Owner’s Envelope Commissioning


© Roy Gumpel Photography