Preserving Michelangelo
11:58 am
Thu June 19, 2014

Carrier to Install New HVAC System in the Sistine Chapel

The new system will be twice as efficient as the one it replaces, and have three times the capacity.

Farmington-based Carrier is to install a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system in the Sistine Chapel as part of an effort to preserve the frescoes of Michelangelo.

The system will limit air motion around the historic paintings, and keep close control on temperature and humidity levels. It's also designed to minimize noise.

The technology replaces the previous system, which Carrier installed in the early 1990s. The older technology was designed to cope with a smaller number of visitors.

John Mandyck, Chief Sustainability Officer for UTC Building and Industrial Systems, said the update was urgent.

"The big driver for the change is the enormous increase in visitors at the Vatican," he told WNPR, speaking from Rome. "Today more than six million people visit the Sistine Chapel. That’s up 300 percent from 1980 when just 1.5 million visitors toured the Chapel. And these visitors are bring dust and dirt from the outside which is contaminating the frescoes in a way that wasn’t imagined."

The new system will be twice as efficient as the one it replaces, and have three times the capacity. Carrier engineers will custom design and manufacture a system that can cope with the high, arched ceilings in the Sistine.

Mandyck said it's a huge honor to be asked to take on the challenge. "United Technologies is helping to protect one of the most sacred indoor environments on earth," he said. "If you think about history, throughout time, art has defined who we are as a society. So by preserving art we’re preserving the record of humanity and we can’t be more proud to serve this role at this installation."

United Technologies has signed a new agreement with the Vatican City to install a range of other building technologies, including fire detection, elevators, electronic security, and video surveillance throughout the city'’s museums.