U.S. Air Force Academy Center for Character and Leadership Development

Unbuilt Design Award Submission

The building program and design recognize, and give form to both the Air Force Honor Code, and the values of the Air Force Academy, while presenting itself as microcosm and metaphor for America’s historic international role as a Beacon of Democracy. The circular geometry places man in the center, and is in contrast and dialogue with the nearby Academy Chapel.
Reflectivity and transparency between the inner catenoid and outer drum forms reflect nearby mountains providing views to the sky, reminding Cadets of their place on earth and in space. This quality of light and lightness, hovering above the Honor Court, connects with experience of flight in a grounded context. Within the open "Forum" at the heart of the project, cadets pursue and debate humanistic values of integrity, leadership and service.
The building's toroidal form encloses maximum space with minimum material while the shell’s double curvature increases efficiency. Structural support occurs only at the outer perimeter. The building takes advantage of Colorado’s prevalence of sunny days and mild climate by creating an air chamber between the cylindrical outer single-glazed shell and the inner double-glazed enclosure. A tension rod skylight system allows a symbolic connection between the Forum and its occupants with the heavens.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
  • James Carpenter Design Associates Inc.
  • United States Air Force Academy
Colorado Springs, Colorado