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“And when construction crews dismantled the chapel’s acoustical ceiling tiles this summer to prepare the building for a new skylight, they found the concrete support walls were built without steel reinforcement.
This was a common building practice in 1970, and the chapel is grandfathered from current codes written with an eye toward 130 mile-per-hour hurricane gusts, said executive director David Leslie. But the chapel’s leadership took no chances.
“This is a simple matter of stewardship,” Leslie said. “I don’t like to use double negatives, but we cannot not do it. … If a weather incident hit the walls at just the right angle, you could lose the chapel. A wall could collapse.”
Lead architect Stephen Cassell of the New York firm Architecture Research Office said visitors were never in danger of being inside a toppling building, because the chapel would be closed during a major hurricane event. But he and ARO partner Adam Yarinsky were also mindful of protecting Rothko’s priceless paintings.”