The Cathedral of Hope, Interfaith Peace Chapel, in Dallas. Photo courtesy Steve Cooley, Carpe Vita Photography.

Cathedral of Hope, Interfaith Peace Chapel



The 8,000-square-foot, 225-seat Interfaith Peace Chapel was originally designed during the 1990s by renowned architect Philip Johnson to serve as the cornerstone of the Cathedral of Hope’s campus. The building provides space for conferences, seminars, interfaith services, weddings, memorial services and other community functions.

At its highest point, the chapel is 46 feet tall and stretches 106 feet across. The structure’s form is created by two wall membranes, an exterior and interior that are composed of similar, but separate, geometries. To create an experience of wonderment for parishioners, Johnson designed each wall surface to warp and curve without the use of parallel lines or 90-degree angles. The unusual forms, in Johnson’s view, would give visitors pause and evoke a transcendent experience to prepare them to hear and learn the Word of God.

Thornton Tomasetti provided structural design services, connection design services, as well as building information modeling services for the one-story steel-frame chapel. A structural BIM was created in Tekla for extensive clash checking between the steel frame and curved asymmetrical internal and external skin membranes. The use of a Tekla model provided two advantages for the structural frame. First, it provided bidders with a model that helped ensure more accurate bids from structural steel subcontractors. Second, the model helped determine accurate material quantities in fewer steps and bidders could visualize the complexity of the structural frame and have confidence that the frame would remain coordinated with the building envelope during construction.

Read More

Related Projects

Specialized Structural Engineering Expertise

Computational Analysis

While the range of shapes and forms that can be designed with modern modeling tools is almost limitless, geometric discipline is still essential for budget control. When forms are still in flux, the design team can use our proprietary tools to interactively study multiple geometric options and establish optimized shapes for structural frames and building surfaces, along with related systems.

Parametric modeling applies parameters such as materials, dimensions or performance criteria to define elements or element categories within a model. Once entered, they can be altered, individually or in combination, to explore and easily incorporate design changes. These 3D models contain intelligent information and can serve as deliverables, or they can be used to generate 2D drawings. Parametric models improve documentation speed and quality, enhance visualization, quickly perform geometry-based analytical tasks and easily calculate material quantities.

Generative modeling uses scripts – instead of direct input – to generate elements, providing even greater flexibility in iterating and testing many options. It allows architects, engineers and other project stakeholders to work together to quickly evaluate any number of concepts and variations.