The Air Force Academy Chapel in Colorado Springs is one of the nation's unique buildings. It was designed by Walter Netsch Jr. who, unfortunately, passed away in his home in Chicago at the age of eighty-eight this past July. The chapel is a wonder of modern architecture and this is quite a feat since it was built in 1962. The dominant feature of the chapel is the seventeen spires that reach more than one-hundred feet into the sky. Many observers believe the spires resemble the wing from a jet craft placed on its end. Each spire is seventy-five feet long and weighs nearly five tons. There is a space in between each spire that is filled with stained glass.
The Chapel cost $3.5 million dollars to build. The organ, religious artifacts, furnishings, pipe fittings, and decorative hangings were all purchased with money collected at USAF services and by private donations.
The building was commissioned by the Unites States Air Force to be a multi-denominational place of worships for the Air Force cadets housed in Colorado Springs. Walter Netsch Jr. certainly delivered just that as there are five distinct places of worship within the chapel: Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist and an all-faiths room.
Each place of worship is designed with that particular faith's beliefs in mind. The all-faiths room is devoid of religious paraphernalia so it will be acceptable to people of various religions. Removable accoutrements are allowed to be brought into the all-faiths room for worship services.
The chapel reached National Historic Landmark status in 2004. The American Institute of Architects named the chapel the 51st most popular building in the country in 2007. The Chapel was not always viewed with such awe. According to Mr. Netsch's widow, Dawn, many people felt the chapel was not religious enough and many others felt it was just downright weird.
According to Duane Boyle, Air Force Chief of Program Development, the chapel has fallen on hard times. Leaks have developed between the spires due to cost restraints on materials imposed on Mr. Netsch. These leaks require constant attention and repair and cost upwards of $300,000 dollars in annual repairs. Due to the National Historic Landmark status of the chapel it, by law, cannot be demolished so repairs should commence soon.
The town of Colorado Springs is also welcome to tour, or worship in, the chapel. The town is dependant on the Air Force base for much of its economy and lives in harmony with its cadet neighbors. The mean salary in Colorado Springs is slightly over fifty thousand dollars and the mean price for a home is $209,400 dollars. This makes Colorado Springs one of the most affordable places in Colorado to purchase a home.