SOM adds character development center to US air force campus in colorado
in 1954, global architecture practice SOM completed a campus for the united states air force academy in colorado springs. 62 years later, the firm returns to the site with a new building that serves as an education and research facility. the ‘center for character & leadership development’ (CCLD) creates a new architectural landmark for the campus, serving as a visual counterpoint to the academy’s distinctive cadet chapel.
the building serves as a visual counterpoint to the academy’s cadet chapel (left)
all images courtesy of SOM / © magda biernat
the 46,000 square-foot structure comprises dedicated spaces for cadets, professors, distinguished visitors, and the public. the building contains: the forum, a flexible gathering space for academic and social interaction; a series of collaboration, conference, and seminar rooms; offices; the library; and the honor board room, where inquiries related to the cadet honor code take place. the CCLD features a dramatic 105-foot skylight that floods the interior with natural light. the glass-enclosed structure has been aligned with the north star, which — according to SOM — signifies the academy’s guiding values.
the giant skylight appears from afar as the tail fin of a plane
the giant skylight, which appears from afar as the tail fin of a plane, consists of diagonal steel plates composed in a triangular grid that has been calibrated to resist lateral forces. at the center of the building, the forum’s terraced levels are capable of hosting a variety of different gatherings. glazed collaboration rooms surround the forum, offering meeting spaces that emphasize a sense of transparency.
the structure consists of diagonal steel plates composed in a triangular grid
symbolically placed at the heart of the plan, the honor board room contains a conference table situated directly beneath a glass aperture that opens onto the larger skylight above. here, a cadet seated at the table will be exactly aligned with the north star. the room’s interior is deliberately simple, with walls, floor and ceiling all clad in maple — emphasizing the position of the table at the center of the space.
the 46,000 square-foot project provides for cadets, professors, visitors, and the public
from an environmental standpoint, the CCLD has been designed to meet LEED silver certification requirements. a climate control system utilizes high-efficiency air handling units, displacement ventilation, radiant heating and cooling, and a solar chimney effect within the skylight that expels hot air. in addition to the natural illumination provided by the skylight itself, the building’s classrooms, meeting rooms, and offices are situated around two courtyards that minimize the need for artificial lighting.
the forum’s terraced levels are capable of hosting a variety of different gatherings
‘our design for the CCLD creates a distinct and contemporary icon for the U.S. air force academy, while also deferring to the discipline and rigor of the original campus plan,’ says roger duffy, design partner at SOM. ‘we were honored to have this opportunity to revisit one of our most important projects, and to make a 21st-century contribution at the heart of the campus.’
glazed collaboration rooms surround the forum
spaces emphasize a sense of transparency
the CCLD has been designed to meet LEED silver certification requirements
the honor board room contains a conference table situated directly beneath a glass aperture
maple wood has been used throughout the design
the building creates a new architectural focal point for the campus
location: colorado springs, colorado, USA
site area: 86,500 sqf / 8,036 sqm
project area: 46,500 sqf / 4,320 sqm
building height: 105 ft / 32 meters
photography: magda biernat
client: united states air force academy
architect: skidmore, owings & merrill LLP
design partner: roger duffy
managing partner: anthony vacchione
senior designer: scott duncan
senior designer: frank mahan
technical coordinator: thierry landis
structural engineer: skidmore, owings & merrill LLP
director, structural engineering: charles besjak
structural engineer: preetam biswas
MEP engineer: skidmore, owings & merrill LLP
civil engineer: skidmore, owings & merrill LLP
sustainability: skidmore, owings & merrill LLP
lighting consultant: brandston partnership, inc.
IT/acoustics/AV: cerami & associates
theater consultant: fisher dachs associates
historic preservation: robert nauman
cost estimating: faithful + gould
topographic survey: nolte associates, inc.
code/fire safety: CCI
wind tunnel testing: RWDI