Dover Air Force Base Chapel Center

Dover, Delaware

As part of a design-build team, KCI provided civil/site and geotechnical engineering, landscape architecture, and survey services for a new 20,000-square-foot LEED-certified chapel on Dover Air Force Base. The goal for the project was to create an inviting space, cohesive with both the existing buildings on the base as well as the surrounding private sector community that provides a quality environment for religious, social and humanitarian functions for the base populace.

Home to thousands of airman and a strong civilian work force, Dover Air Force Base (DAFB) operates the Department of Defense’s largest and most active air freight terminal as well as the Air Mobility Command Museum, which welcomes thousands of visitors each year, and our nation’s largest military mortuary. The remains of most servicemen and women lost their lives serving our nation overseas are brought to DAFB before being transferred to family.

The single-story building met all of its project objectives, including expanding the base’s capability of supporting more families following a mass casualty event. The newly-opened 300-seat multi-denominational DAFB Chapel Center is a place of congregation, reflection, spiritualism, and renewal for our soldiers and their families. It is also an energy efficient, low maintenance defense facility that meets the often conflicting U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the base, anti-terrorism/force protection and U.S. Green Building Council LEED Silver requirements.

KCI’s design involved innovative concepts for detailed site and landscaping design, and an unconventional irrigation approach that uses 50 percent less water than traditional pop-up systems. Anti-terrorism/force protection (AT/FP) setbacks also posed significant challenges by overlapping with nearby buildings and creating constraints for landscaping, parking, entrances and service drives.

This project was viewed as a success by all parties involved, and the project team was commended on their ability to maintain an open and active dialogue both with the design team and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The new Chapel Center serves a recognized need, meets its new mission goals, and offers a modern, world-class, energy-efficient facility for service men and women in need of counsel, prayer and meditation. The expanded space will better support grieving families who have lost warriors during service, will better protect those in attendance from attack, and better service the base through reduced cost of ownership.