Ongoing Construction in the Cathedral: What to Expect on Your Visit
If you’ve visited the Cathedral in person recently, you’re likely familiar with the sight of a construction zone going up in the Crossing and Great Choir. The Cathedral is famously unfinished—many prominent architects have proposed visions of eventual completion, but our current mission is maintaining and conserving the majesty of the building as it currently exists.
The Crossing, the central area of the Cathedral, is capped by a dome of Guastavino tile; while this ceiling was initially intended to be temporary when it was installed in 1909, it’s become one of the architectural gems of the Cathedral and one of the best-preserved examples of tilework of its kind. In order to conserve the dome ceiling for many more years to come, cleaning and maintenance work is underway. This work is in addition to the construction on the outside of the Crossing dome, where a new copper finish is being laid on the exterior. (Check out time-lapse videos of the exterior construction here!)
Meanwhile, more conservation projects are beginning to unfold in the Great Choir and Ambulatory. The Cathedral experienced a fire in the crypt on Palm Sunday 2019. Since then, we’ve been working towards the deinstallation, cleaning, and reinstallation of the Great Organ pipes high above the choir. Each pipe will need to be removed and sent out for thorough cleaning to ensure no soot remains before they can be played once more. We expect the pipes to return to the Cathedral in time for Easter 2023, when this acclaimed national treasure can once again fill the world’s largest Gothic cathedral in song.
As a result of these ongoing construction and conservation projects, visitors to the Cathedral in the coming weeks and months will see the progress of this work as it unfolds in real time. While we’re excited about the end results, we apologize for the noise and occasional disruption to our regular routine that these projects might bring. Daily services will continue to be held throughout the week, but the locations may change to ensure visitor comfort and safety. Access to the Cathedral’s chapels will be limited as the work picks up speed. For those visiting the Cathedral in search of a quiet place for meditation, reflection, or prayer, we recommend planning your visit on a weekend when construction is paused. Construction is also paused during daily worship services, music performances, and other hosted events.
We appreciate your patience and understanding as the Cathedral continues the work of caring for this beloved and architecturally significant space. We look forward to the unveiling of our beautifully preserved Guastavino ceiling and dome, and the eventual return of our world-renowned Great Organ.