Architecture, Design, Government, Sustainability

A visitor walks to the front alter inside the United States Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel in Colorado Springs, Colorado. AECOM was hired by the Academy and USAF to design repairs to the 50-year-old construction. The Cadet Chapel is on the US National Historic Landmark and has become a classic and highly regarded example of modernist architecture.

AECOM’s effort involved investigation, forensic analysis, identification, and design plans to eliminate exterior envelope leakage, abate all hazardous materials, upgrade mechanical and electrical systems, bring the Chapel up to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Anti-Terrorism/Force protection (AT/FP) standards, comply with building codes and Air Force Sustainable Design and Development criteria.

One item of particular concern is the building envelope which is comprised of aluminum panels and a 32-mile glazing system attached to 17 interconnected structural frames consisting of tetrahedral truss systems. These 32-miles of glazing has continued to fail after past repairs – primarily due to the cyclic movements associated with thermal expansion and contraction as well as movement as a result of the Cadet Chapel being located in a high wind speed region. As a result, the Cadet Chapel has leaked for over 50-years, resulting in stained interior plaster finishes, falling plaster panels, damage to the pipe organ, and damage to wood finishes on the pews.

The principle design elements will consist of designing the repairs to the exterior building envelope, repair by replacement of the mechanical and electrical systems, repair of the exterior snow melt systems, and repair of the architectural interior finishes. The goal is to restore the Cadet Chapel to be LEED Silver certifiable, meet current code requirements, and to comply with the AT/FP Standards by incorporating new technologies all while maintaining the original aesthetics and preserving the historic nature of the building.

This exposure was taken at 1/50th of a second, at f 5.0 at ISO 800 on a Canon 1Dx camera with 24mm tilt-shift lens on a tripod.

Photo © Robb Williamson / AECOM

Originally published Oct 22, 2015

Author: Robb Williamson