Cadet Chapel – U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado - Atlas Obscura

AO Edited

Cadet Chapel

U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado

Air Force Academy Chapel made of 100 identical tetrahedrons works to inspire those of all religions. 


Stretching 150 feet into the chilly air outside of Colorado Springs, the Cadet Chapel appears like a massive triangular accordion penetrating the tranquil landscape and leaving thousands of visitors in awe.

Designed in 1959 by MIT grad Walter A. Netsch Jr., the building is an iconic fusing of technology, worship and aesthetically pleasing futuristic architecture. It was finished in 1963 after four years of work and a budget of $3.5 million. From the outside, the conspicuous 17 spires dominate the landscape, but the technological know-how of the interior is truly inspiring.

The frame of the entire chapel is constructed out of 100 identical tetrahedrons, weighing five tons a piece. Each of the tetrahedrons is colored according to pattern, some with clear aluminum and others with vibrant colored glass. The careful planning and design of the interior structure gives the place of worship a spectacular palette of deep blues and pastels when light shines against the roof.

Built to inspire all who worship in its halls, the Chapel has a multi-religious approach, with a Protestant chapel on the top floor, a Catholic chapel on the middle floor, a Muslim prayer room, and a circular Jewish chapel on the lower floor. Although Christian worship dominates the chapel, the Jewish chapel features a famous “Holocaust Scroll” that was donated to the church after being found in an abandoned warehouse in Poland.

Although the chapel was controversial when it was first built, it has come be accepted and loved. It is open for visits and worship every day. For visitors hoping to just catch a glimpse while passing through, the huge Chapel is visible from Interstate 25 a few miles away.

Update as of September 2021: Unfortunately, the chapel has been covered by a large, white box-shaped cover for a major maintenance project. The cover will not be removed until 2027 at the soonest. 

From Around the Web