Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Insensitively-placed Air Ducts

Air conditioning is a good thing. In the 1960s, a parish fund drive collected enough money to install A/C in the Cathedral. Back then, we were fortunate to have air conditioning, so perhaps no one thought much about where to place the ducts.

Our excellent architect, Professor Thomas Gordon Smith, commented that our air conditioning ducts are "insensitively placed." He's right: the ducts could be hidden. He presented a great solution.

His suggestion was to keep the modern convenience of air conditioning, but to hide the ducts so that they don't distract from the beauty of the Cathedral.

The ducts had been placed at the top of each arch in the nave. They were about three or four feet wide, one foot tall, and shiny metal in color. Today, the air conditioning is re-routed through rondells. (No, the rondells are not an all-girl band from the 60s.) The rondells are large plaster disks mounted above the arches in the nave and molded to match the finials of our high altar. The disks are perforated so that cool air can flow out of them.

The rondells are replacing artwork from the 1914 painted artwork on the Cathedral's walls. The original artwork featured, for example, images of the Blessed Mother and said Regina Caeli. All of the original painted art was lost due to decades of soot rising from candles and incence. Towards the end of the renovation, we hope to repaint and re-stencil the entire interior of the Cathedral - including the rondells.

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