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.”

Photos below: Chapel wall panels and benches as seen before, then after treatment, and during treatment at Bernacki & Associates

 Carr Memorial Chapel interior detail before restoration

Carr Memorial Chapel interior detail before restoration

 Carr Memorial Chapel interior detail after restoration

Carr Memorial Chapel interior detail after restoration

 Carr Memorial Chapel interior detail before restoration: missing veneer on the wall panel at the floor level

Carr Memorial Chapel interior detail before restoration: missing veneer on the wall panel at the floor level

 Missing veneer section

Missing veneer section

 Veneered wall panel detail before restoration

Veneered wall panel detail before restoration

 Veneered wall panel detail after restoration

Veneered wall panel detail after restoration

 Infilling areas of veneer loss with Dutchman patches

Infilling areas of veneer loss with Dutchman patches

 Carefully toning veneer infill by hand

Carefully toning veneer infill by hand

 Veneer grain matching

Veneer grain matching

 Veneered benches before and after treatment

Veneered benches before and after treatment

 Veneered bench onsite before restoration

Veneered bench onsite before restoration

 Veneered bench after treatment

Veneered bench after treatment