Air Force Academy's chapel honored by German group

December 18, 2013 Updated: December 20, 2013 at 9:29 am
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photo - Chapel Public Relations Director Pete Peterson lights candles along the pews inside the Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel Tuesday, December 17, 2013. The chapel was recently named one of the ten most spectacular churches in the world by Emporis, the international provider of building information. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette
Chapel Public Relations Director Pete Peterson lights candles along the pews inside the Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel Tuesday, December 17, 2013. The chapel was recently named one of the ten most spectacular churches in the world by Emporis, the international provider of building information. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette  

Move over Notre Dame and Westminster Abbey, with your steeples and flying buttresses. There's been a reformation in church architecture and Colorado Springs is home to one of the best examples in the world.

The Air Force Academy's Cadet Chapel, the most popular man-made attraction in Colorado, was named one of the top 10 most spectacular modern churches by Emporis, a Germany-based compiler of real estate information.

"Wherever one looks, church architecture is undergoing a process of upheaval," Emporis stated in a news release.

The academy is No. 10 on the list, but Emporis said that's no concern. The churches were listed alphabetically rather than quantitatively.

Click here for a photo gallery of the academy chapel.

Controversial at the time of its construction, the 17-spired academy chapel was built in 1963 for $3.5 million.

"For a building now 50 years old, I think this is utterly amazing that the Cadet Chapel is in the top-10 listing of the world's most spectacular churches," said Col. Robert Bruno, the academy's chief chaplain.

Also on the list are the Neue Synagogue in Mainz, Germany, the Cathedral of the Resurrection in ?ry, France, and The Leaf Chapel in Hakuto, Japan.

Another honoree is Rome's Jubilee Chapel.

The academy's chapel was envisioned as a reflection on the aspirations of cadets.

The triangular shape and use of polished aluminum is designed to remind worshipers of aircraft in flight. The aluminum cross in the main chapel is stylized to resemble a bird's wings.

Inside the main chapel, a series of narrow stained-glass windows between the spires allow light to stream in.

There's a lot going on in the academy's chapel. While the other honorees are churches dedicated to a single faith, the cadet chapel is designed to serve airmen of all faiths.

"Inside the chapel are five worship spaces," Bruno said.

Protestant services are held on the main floor. Catholic Mass takes place on another floor. The chapel also houses Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist worship areas. Nearby, the academy has built an outdoor chapel for Earth-centered religions.

Bruno said getting on the architectural list is a big deal.

"It is public recognition of the enduring value and influence religion has played for centuries in art, music, architecture and public life," Bruno said. "I have no doubt that this awareness will continue into the future."

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