Air Force Village Competition

I recently participated in the Air Force Village architecture competition.  The task was to design a new multi-faith chapel for the campus of Air Force Village, a large community for retired Air Force officers in San Antonio, Texas.  Although I was not named one of the finalists, I was very happy with our design.  This is the first board of the competition entry, showing the building elevations, an interior rendering and site plan:

The chapel consists of two interlocking parabolic barrel vaults made of standard pre-manufactured metal forms, like those used to make quonset huts.  The main chapel is in the larger vault, the side chapels and auxiliary spaces in the smaller one.  The chapel is connected to the Health Center, and along with the Town Center building, makes an entry court for the community.

This the second board of the submission showing the building sections, aerial and night views and building plan:

The chapel was connected to the Health Center by a low, curving narthex and administrative wing.  One of the design’s most successful portions, in my opinion, was the large, open-air porch that makes the exterior entry to the chapel.  Looking out on the courtyard, the entry porch serves as the public face of the chapel and is meant to complement the other two large existing buildings, the Health Center and Town Center.  The three buildings combined were meant to manifest the community’s commitment to the spiritual, physical and social lives of the inhabitants.

There is a page on the blog with more drawings, some text and bit more detail.

Air Force Academy chapel

completed in 1963, the Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel was designed by Walter Netsch of SOM in Chicago.

southwest, small

seventeen aluminum, steel and glass spires, reminiscent of fighter jet double delta wings are also a series of flying buttresses, linking this strikingly modern sanctuary to the history of western christian spaces.

interior 01, small

interior 02, small

The stained glass panels highlight the structural ‘ribs’ of the building, a geometry both simple and complex, and surely Netsch’s finest work.

The building is set upon a granite and concrete plinth with Colorado Springs’ Rocky Mountain foothills in the background, making is strangely scale-less and slightly otherworldly.

southwest, partial, small

photos by Mark Gerwing