U.S.A | Colorado Springs, CO

Cadet Chapel

17 Spires - each composed of 100 Tetrahedrons.

The Cadet Chapel was the culminating architectural element of SOM's master plan and design of the entire U.S. Air Force Academy campus. The striking building features a succession of 17 glass and aluminum spires — each composed of 100 tetrahedrons — enclosing the upper level. Continuous panels of brilliant stained glass clad the tubular tetrahedrons, enabling diffused light to enter the building.

The 150-foot-tall chapel is situated on a podium adjacent to the Court of Honor. The program required three distinct chapels: a 900-seat Protestant chapel, a 500-seat Catholic chapel, and a 100-seat Jewish chapel. Each chapel has a separate entrance. The main floor Protestant chapel is enclosed by tetrahedrons clad in extruded aluminum separated by continuous colored glass panels, with windows of special laminated glass. The terrace-level Catholic chapel is characterized by precast masonry forming the ceiling pattern, with side walls of amber glass and strip windows of faceted glass. The Jewish chapel is a circular room enclosed in cypress frames and stained-glass slabs, with a foyer of brown Jerusalem stone donated by the Israeli Air Force.

In 1996, the Cadet Chapel won the Twenty-five Year Award from the American Institute of Architects. SOM recently completed a comprehensive rehabilitation and modernization plan for the iconic landmark.


March 18, 2018
Photos: Jose Morales
Camera: Sony A7Rii