Oblique glass pyramid by SOM

Oblique glass pyramid by SOMImage courtesy of SOM

Oblique glass pyramid by SOM

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 46,000 square-foot structure comprises dedicated spaces for cadets, professors, distinguished visitors, and the public.

 

Oblique glass pyramid by SOMImage courtesy of SOM

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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 new facility serves as an education and research centre that supports the academy’s mission to “integrate character and leadership development into all aspects of the Cadet experience”. But the most significant part is the 105-foot skylight. This 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.

 

Oblique glass pyramid by SOMImage courtesy of SOM

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At the center of the building, the forum’s terraced levels are capable of hosting a variety of different gatherings. An indicator of true north, the star is aligned with the earth’s rotational axis and is the only star in the northern hemisphere that appears not to move. It is often used in navigation. “By aligning this new centre for community and collaboration under the North Star, SOM’s design creates a meaningful architectural interpretation of the Academy’s aspirations,” the firm said. Terraced levels accommodate both formal and casual gatherings at various scales.

 

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