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231 East 22nd Street, Suite 23 New York NY 10010

Fax: +88 (0) 202 0000 001

St. Paul’s Chapel

Location: Columbia University, New York, NY

Landmark Status: NYC Individual Landmark; National Register of Historic Places

Original Architect: Howells & Stokes

Date of Construction: 1904-1907

Date of Restoration: 2018-2019

Scope of Work: Tile Roof & Dome Restoration, Copperwork Restoration, Stained Glass Window Restoration, Masonry Restoration

Awards: Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award (New York Landmarks Conservancy), Preservation Award (Victorian Society in America)



St. Paul’s Chapel, located on the Morningside Heights campus of Columbia University, was designed by Howells & Stokes in an adapted Italian Renaissance style and constructed 1904-07. The first campus building not designed by McKim, Mead & White, it is also among the first designated New York City landmarks.


While its red brick, Indiana limestone and cornice height echo the surrounding campus buildings, distinctive details such as marble accents, decorative burned brick patterning and the geometry of the building itself serve to differentiate the chapel. A Greek cross in plan, the chapel is topped at the crossing by a dome pierced by sixteen arched stained-glass windows. With two exceptions, all of the chapel’s varied roofs are green glazed Ludowici terra cotta tiles. Inside, the color scheme and decorative treatment are derived from the construction materials themselves: salmon-colored structural brick, rose-colored Guastavino tiles, and terra cotta ornament tinted to harmonize with these elements.


Within 25 years of its construction, leaks began to surface at the interior that were attributed to poor characteristics of the original roof tiles. Walter B. Melvin Architects was retained in 2010 to perform a roof conditions survey, archival research and materials testing, and provide recommendations for repair. In 2018, WBMA and Femenella & Associates were engaged by the University to oversee a comprehensive restoration of the building exterior including roof areas, building masonry, and stained-glass windows at the dome.


At the exterior, tiled roof areas were replaced down to the substrate. Existing, nonoriginal terra cotta tiles were replaced with the original interlocking “T12” profile, custom cast from original molds and matched to what was likely the original “dull green” color, based on archival information. Historic copper work was carefully replicated throughout, and original cypress wood elements were repaired. The dome’s sixteen stained glass windows were conserved using fully reversible solutions, and isothermal protective glazing installed. With access in place at the interior for stained glass work, a comprehensive cleaning and restoration of the vibrant Guastavino tile dome, apse and chancel ceilings was added to the project.


Columbia University’s commitment to a long-term approach for all aspects of the chapel’s restoration was rewarded with two preservation awards in 2020.

Sergio De Orbeta


Sergio De Orbeta

With over 19 years of experience in the field, Sergio has been instrumental in the successful restoration, repair, and continued maintenance of numerous historic structures in New York City and beyond.  13 of those years have been at WBMA, where he has taken a detailed and methodical approach to his projects. Some of his noteworthy ongoing projects include Casa Italiana, Columbia University; The Osborne; 100 Hudson Street; 525 Park Avenue; 130 East End Avenue; and 300 West 108th Street.  Previous award-winning projects include 131 Duane Steet – the Hope Building, 451 Broome Street, Donald Judd Home & Studio, and Marymount School of New York.  He is a Registered Architect in the States of New York and New Jersey. Originally from Puerto Rico, Sergio received his Master of Science in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania and Bachelor of Architecture with a Minor in Architectural History from Carnegie Mellon University.



University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Master of Science in Historic Preservation

Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
Bachelor of Architecture
Minor in Architectural History

Professional Registration

Registered Architect in the States of New York and New Jersey

Martin Lee Griggs, RA

Martin Lee Griggs

Martin has worked in the architecture and construction industry for over 30 years, including 26 years at WBMA specializing in the assessment and repair of exterior envelopes. He has overseen several award-winning restoration projects including St. Paul’s Chapel – Columbia University, 451 Broome Street, Liberty Tower and Alwyn Court, as well as restoration projects at Louis Sullivan’s Bayard-Condict Building, the Cosmopolitan Club, several City parks and residential cooperatives. Martin is well versed in the myriad building materials that have been used in the northeast and has extensive experience assessing and restoring a variety of masonry and roofing systems. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California and is a Registered Architect in New York State.

University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Bachelor of Architecture

Professional Registration
Registered Architect in the State of New York

Robert C. Bates


Robert C. Bates

With 35 years of professional experience at WBMA, Robert has overseen restoration projects at many of New York City’s premier institutions, including The Met Cloisters, Donald Judd Home and Studio, Green-Wood Cemetery and Riverside Church, as well as McKim Mead and White’s 998 Fifth Avenue and William Tuthill’s Schinasi Mansion at 351 Riverside Drive. A graduate of Lehigh University, Robert is a Registered Architect in the States of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, as well as a member of the American Institute of Architects. He has a strong understanding of traditional building materials and has developed many new restoration techniques over the years. Robert has published articles on waterproofing of historic masonry walls, restoration of cast iron, and roofing replacement.



Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA
Bachelor of Art in Architecture

Professional Registration

Registered Architect in the States of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut