Dallas Chapel Brings to Life Johnson's Final Design
Best Cultural/Worship Project
The Cathedral of Hope Interfaith Peace Chapel—where people of all faiths, or no faith, can gather to pray, meditate and meet—was the last work sketched by famed architect Phillip Johnson, who died in 2005.
The Dallas office of Structure Tone Southwest Inc. was the general contractor for the $4-million LEED-certified project, based on a design by the joint venture of Philip Johnson Alan Ritchie Architects, New York, and Cunningham Architects, Dallas.
Comprising curved walls and arches with no angles or parallel lines, the 8,000-sq-ft cathedral peaks at 46 ft. To achieve the proper curvature based on Johnson's hand-built model, the design-construction team used software such as BIM, Tekla and Rhinoceros 3D.
Begun in August 2009 and completed in November 2011, the 175-seat chapel incorporates cement plaster exterior walls supported by 600 sheets of sheathing and 1,550 pieces of steel. The interior comprises bent studs, drywall and American Clay plaster. One unique element, the twisted skylight, is bent on three axes.
Because of the curving design, steel, glass, skin and drywall required unique procedures and tight coordination. For example, while most of the steel was fabricated in Dallas, it was shipped to Oklahoma where it was bent and curved to specification. Because of the odd window shapes required, Plexiglas templates were field cut and shipped to an out-of-state manufacturer so that each piece fit in the arched and shield-shaped openings.
The construction team also met other challenges. During excavation, a 20-ft-deep hole had to be drained several times because of abnormal flooding. Fabrication and erection of the steel was difficult because of the cathedral's proximity to the Love Field airport. Because of height restrictions, two small cranes were used instead of one large one.
"Despite the challenges, we realized a clean safety record, delivered a LEED building on time and on budget and created a tribute to a renowned American architect," says Joseph Cribbin, Structure Tone Southwest senior vice president.
Owner: Cathedral of Hope Interfaith Peace Chapel, Dallas
General Contractor: Structure Tone, Dallas
Design Architect: Philip Johnson Alan Ritchie Architects, Houston
Construction Architect: Cunningham Architects, Dallas