Overcoming the unique challenges of the Sistine Chapel


When it came time to install the different elements of the system, Carrier was confronted with several unique challenges that needed to be overcome: the geometry of the space, the weight and size of the equipment, and the historical significance of the building. “In working with the Vatican we understood that we would not be able to penetrate into the walls or even use the space in the attic,” recalls Bill Chadwick, senior systems engineer, AdvanTE3C Solutions Center, UTC Building & Industrial Systems. “It really pointed out how much of a monument this was.”

Michel Grabon confirms: “For the installation we were limited to the existing openings. We couldn’t move or reshape a single stone that had been there since the beginning. It was these kinds of limitations that required inventive solutions on our part.”

Placing nearly 50 tons of material on the rooftops adjacent to the Sistine Chapel was another considerable factor. “Before installing the machines, we had to make sure the terraces could bear the load,” says Rev. Rafael Garcìa de la Serrana Villalobos. “In studying how the building was made, we realized we needed to reinforce the roofing structure to support the weight of the air handling units, the dry coolers and the machine rooms.”

Completing the installation

Once it was clear that the structure would be able to bear the weight and the temporary HVAC system was up and running, the existing pumps, compressors and ductwork were removed. Then, using the duct access openings created in the 1990s, the new system was put into place. When the work was complete, the temporary system was removed and the new system launched in October 2014.


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