BIM utilized for a creative approach to framing wall systems in a Dallas-area church.

The use of a curved steel frame double-wall system to achieve a spiritual aesthetic shines the spotlight on the Interfaith Peace Chapel. Demonstrating tremendous creativity and technical finesse, the on-site team of Dallas-based Lasco Drywall & Acoustics captured the spirit of the architect’s posthumous design with arresting accuracy.

Renowned architect Philip Johnson’s contribution to the Interfaith Peace Chapel, located on the campus of the Cathedral of Hope, United Church of Christ in Dallas, was a lifetime in the making. Johnson finalized the design for the chapel just before his death in 2005. Five years later, in the fall of 2010, the building was completed and Johnson’s epic career concluded with the designer’s most personal project to date. There are no right angles or parallel lines in the frame of the chapel and the deep sweeping curves of the doorways evoke a sense of openness and pliancy within the congregation.

Structural engineers Thornton Tomasetti constructed a “double wall” concept and created a structural steel 3-D Tekla BIM model to define the asymmetrical structural geometry of the interior and exterior surfaces. Cunningham Architects then converted this model into a Rhino 3-D model that included the structural steel detail along with the finished interior and exterior surfaces. Radius Track, a provider of curved cold-formed steel framing solutions, used this Rhino 3-D model to create all the cold-formed steel framing details, including all the headers for the openings on the interior and exterior of the chapel. By integrating the structural steel with the cold-formed steel framing details, the clashes were identified and resolved in advance, which helped avoid conflicts on the job site.


To accommodate the design of the continuously curving thick walls, Radius Track fabricated a custom dual framing system. Two “twin structures” were created for the inside and outside walls, using 3⅝-inch 33-mil studs and track for the interior walls and 6-inch 54-mil studs and track for the exterior walls. The company’s CEO and Chief Design Officer Chuck Mears, AIA, say a way to maximize the inner/outer wall connection to add strength. He designed an extended clip system that connected both walls to the steel structure, using only a single horizontal clip, instead of using two different clips.

Jeremy Williams at Lasco, the drywall contractors on the project, says that the project went very well due to the level of detail provided by the manufacturer.

“We were given X/Y/Z dimensions for some curved ceilings to build off of, and to show the architect and owner that the ceilings could be installed exactly as shown on their design,” Williams says. “Radius Track provided field use drawings that showed where every track and stud piece, which were individually numbered, went. For such a complicated project, it went extremely well.”

Key Players:

Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects, Design Architects

Cunningham Architects, Gary Cunningham FAIA, Tom Dohearty, AIA and Rizi Faruqui, AIA, Architects of Record

Radius Track Corporation

Structure Tone Southwest, General Contractors

THHinc (Trabue, Hansen & Hinshaw, Inc.), Consulting Engineers

Thornton Tomasetti, Structural Engineers of Record

Irwin Steel, Structural Steel Fabricator

Lasco Acoustics and Drywall, Inc., Drywall Contractor

Gypsum Supply Ltd., Drywall Distributor


Cold formed steel, interior and exterior 3-D modeling. Signed and sealed engineered calculations. 6-inch 16 gauge exterior studs and track. 3⅝-inch 20 gauge interior studs and track. (Radius Track supplied)

Drywall and plaster (Lasco supplied)