Eielson Chapel

"A strong spiritual refuge to the rigors of base life in the Arctic is essential to the wellbeing of the personnel employed there."

 

 

Awards:

  • 2008 PACAF Concept Design Winner

  • 2009 AIA Pacific Northwest Region Honor Award

Client: US Army Corps of Engineers

Architects: KPB Architects

Contractor and Civil Engineer: Bristol Environmental and Engineering Services Corporation

Structural, Mechanical and Electrical Engineer: Coffman Engineers, Inc.

 


As this facility needed to serve all religious denominations of military personnel and their families at Eielson Air Force Base, the design imperative was to remain neutral to specific religious symbolism yet at the same time provide a space with reverence to convey spirituality and inner reflection.

The isolated location, limited daylight in winter months and severe winter climate, make Eielson AFB personnel particularly susceptible to psychological stresses that can affect operational readiness. To help alleviate these stresses, a strong spiritual refuge to the rigors of base life in the Arctic is essential to the wellbeing of the personnel employed there.

The new chapel designed by KPB Architects provides areas for worship, administration offices, classrooms and a sanctuary to accommodate 300-400. Additional gathering space includes a fellowship hall that can seat 200, a Blessed Sacrament room to accommodate specific Catholic liturgy, and a multi-faith chapel that can be configured for any worship service.

The chapel is positioned on the site to take full advantage of daylighting and scenic views, with a large clerestory across the south side of the nave to bring in natural light for services occurring at all times of the day. Views out of the Nave overlook a retention pond and mature trees, with a recess in a portion of the south wall to accommodate an intimate meditation garden.

The main shell is composed of two curved walls resembling outstretched arms, as if collecting and protecting the celebrants inside. The main worship area, the central most important element of the building, is between the curved walls and accented by height, shape and projection to signify stability. The main entrance is a tall slender tower, hinting at a traditional bell tower, and is placed as part of the long entrance canopy.

This chapel won the 2008 Pacific Air Forces Top Concept Design Category Award, putting it contention for the U.S. Air Force’s Design Awards Program, the highest honor attainable.