The United States Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel, completed in 1962, is the distinguishing feature of the Cadet Area at the United States Air Force Academy. Originally controversial in its design, the Cadet Chapel has become a classic and highly regarded example of modernist architecture. The Cadet Chapel was awarded the American Institute of Architects' National 25 Year Award in 1996, and as part of the Cadet Area, was named a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 2004.
The most striking aspect of the Chapel is its row of seventeen spires. The original design called for nineteen spires, but this number was reduced due to budget issues. The structure is a tubular steel frame of 100 identical tetrahedrons, each 75 feet (23 m) long, weighing five tons, and enclosed with clear aluminum panels. The panels were fabricated in Missouri and shipped by rail to the site. The tetrahedrons are spaced a foot apart, creating gaps in the framework that are filled with one-inch thick colored glass. The tetrahedrons comprising the spires are filled by triangular clear aluminum panels, while the tetrahedrons between the spires are filled with a mosaic of colored glass in aluminum frame.
The Cadet Chapel itself is 150 feet (46 m) high, 280 feet (85 m) long, and 84 feet (26 m) wide. The front façade, on the south, has a wide granite stairway with steel railings capped by aluminum handrails leading up one story to a landing. At the landing is a band of gold anodized aluminum doors, and gold anodized aluminum sheets apparently covering original windows.
The shell of the chapel and surrounding grounds cost $3.5 million to build. Various furnishings, pipe organs, liturgical fittings and adornments of the chapel were presented as gifts from various individuals and organizations. In 1959, a designated Easter offering was also taken at Air Force bases around the world to help complete the interior.
Architect : Walter Netsch (Skidmore, Owings and Merrill)