Dahlgren Chapel Renovation

Georgetown University

Washington, DC

Award of Excellence in Historic Architecture, AIA Northern Virginia


For more than a century, the Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart has been a place of worship, reflection and celebration for Georgetown University. Surrounded on three sides by Georgetown’s oldest buildings to form Dahlgren Quadrangle, it is not only one of the campus’s most iconic structures but also a historic local landmark.


The chapel, constructed in 1893 in the style of 13th century English cathedrals, is the spiritual heart of the Georgetown community. In this sacred space, generations of students, faculty, staff and alumni have attended Mass, weddings, baptisms or simply stole a quiet moment of reflection. Therefore, preservation of its architectural character was a top priority. The University needed to update the space, but the renovated space still needed to feel like home.


This preservation project included renovation of the chapel interior and improvements to the exterior quadrangle. The interior renovation focused on accentuating and enhancing the architectural qualities of the original. A visually intrusive box organ was removed and replaced with a new pipe organ and casework incorporated into a reimagined chancel. New custom lighting and controls were integrated to emphasize the spatial volume and the beauty of the original wood structure. New seating provided for increased capacity from 240 to 325. The work also included design of liturgical elements, new finishes, integrated audio/video/security systems, HVAC and electrical upgrades.