R. Miller Architecture shared with us their design for the Air Force Village Chapel competition, for which they received a 2010 unbuilt AIA Orlando award for design excellence. See more images and architect’s description after the break.
IDEAS The U.S. Air Force, saying the name evokes many images and emotions. Stories of test pilots, engineering achievements, historic battles, exploration of the universe, Air Force heroes and so much more flashes through the mind. Our aim is to capture the essentials linking such diverse stories together. Concepts like a pilot’s exposure to the limitless blue sky, the feeling of engaging a piece of high performance equipment, the experience of soaring, images of aircraft contrails, and the Thunderbirds’ precision ballet-like flight in the heavens above. We have captured and expressed these and other such word pictures in a building clearly and uniquely representing the Air Force and it’s men and women of faith.
DESIGN Inspiration is developed around military aircraft. Whether a P51 Mustang, or the contemporary F22 Raptor, the pilot’s experience is exhilarating sitting in an elliptical bubble surrounded by the sky. The design of the narthex, nave and chancel was conceived out of this experience. Contemporary aircraft have very angular functioning components connected to the fuselage. Our design solution emphasizes the primary gathering space as the central component of the building. The Catholic chapel, various offices, sacristies, and other required rooms gather around the central ellipse in angular clusters similar to an aircraft. When engineered, the whole aircraft communicates movement and speed when sitting perfectly still. We planned our design to have a corresponding dynamic. Many of the men and women of the Air Force recall their planes with great affection. A WWII pilot spoke of his P51 this way, “If that plane had been a girl, I’d have married it right on the spot”. (Reference Wild Blue by Stephen Ambrose) Our hope is the design of your chapel will be held with similar esteem and affection in the hearts of the honored Air Force retirees.
COMMUNITY VALUE A monument is defined as a lasting reminder of something notable or great. The chapel is intentionally shaped and sited to serve as a monument or architectural landmark for the Air Force Village II. Features include, being on axis with the Freedom Way Drive, its distinctive texture and shape and being elevated above the main approaching drive. This provides a strong invitation to explore this one-of-a-kind addition to Air Force Village II. The building will provide many educational opportunities both inside and out. Displays of a historical nature featuring events and veterans are anticipated to make the building a special part of the community. We believe the thought, care and quality of the chapel will communicate a sense of respect and honor conferred upon those that served their country faithfully in the US Air Force.
SPIRITUAL CENTER The Chapel communicates its spiritual purpose in many ways. The elevated structure inspires one to “lift up your eyes” and ascend into “His Holy Temple”. As a place of singing and music we have planned for exceptional acoustics through the chapel design and refined tuning capabilities. The expansive visibility of the sky, stars and clouds is a reminder of the accounts and attributes of the heavens described in the Holy Scriptures. At the same time technology will enable us to control unwanted daytime light and glare. Finally stained glass, artistic works and special Bible passages will be properly displayed. This instinctively creates a house of worship and prayer for Air Force Village II.