Cannon Chapel gets its first complete makeover

By Leslie King | Emory Report | June 20, 2013

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Cannon Chapel, the center of religious life on campus, is getting a full renovation and technology upgrade after 30 years. Photo by Terry Kearns.

Cannon Chapel, the worship space that sits directly on the Quad next to the Candler School of Theology, is undergoing an extensive refurbishment with a technology upgrade this summer.

"Cannon Chapel is used by many faith communities," says Susan Henry-Crowe, dean of the chapel and religious life, including people of the Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Catholic faiths.

A joint effort between the Candler School of Theology and the Office of Dean of the Chapel and Religious Life, the renovation is the first done on Cannon Chapel since it was built in 1981.

"Candler depends on Cannon Chapel as a daily laboratory for training our students," says Candler Dean Jan Love.  

"Our degree programs depend on Cannon Chapel being in good shape. We initiated this project in order to install state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment in the sanctuary and classrooms," she explains.  

"It will now be much more functional and friendly for state-of-the-art education and training, as well as [for] all religious groups' ritual uses," Love says.  

The renovation will improve the spaces for Muslim prayers and for the spiritual life of Buddhists who hold meditation there; and provide an altar for Hindu worship; notes Henry-Crowe.

Jo Donna Lamb, project manager with Emory's Planning, Design and Construction, points out some of the improvements and changes:

  • The audio-visual capabilities will be upgraded for the classrooms and for the main sanctuary to allow for live capture and streaming.
  • The original parquet floors will be replaced.
  • The ceiling, parts of which are 40 feet above the floor, will be resurfaced.
  • The lectern and main altar, which were designed by the chapel architect, Paul Rudolph, will also be refinished.
  • Carpeting will be replaced throughout and added in some areas. 
  • New furnishings will be installed throughout the building spaces.
  • Lighting will be increased and have improved efficiency by replacing the old fluorescent lights. 
  • Pews are being repainted.
  • Adjustments will be made to some teaching and meeting spaces to make them more flexible.  
  • Upgrades will be made to satisfy the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Ablution stations for ritual washing for Muslim worshippers are being added. "Candler's hopes for improved facilities intersected with the long-standing need of Muslim students for ablution stations," Love notes.

Cannon Chapel is in use 52 weeks of the year, hosting about 1,000 services, classes and events annually. Candler School of Theology, for example, holds five worship services per week and daily classes in the building, says Love.

Faculty and staff have been temporarily relocated, most to the nearby B. Jones Center. Some of Henry-Crowe's staff is working out of Religious Life's other office in the Dobbs University Center.  

Work is expected to be completed in August, says Lamb.  

The result? "Greater functionality and beauty" at the chapel, says Love; a technologically functional building, says Lamb; and renovations that will enhance interfaith work across the University, says Henry-Crowe.