United States Air Force Academy Center for Character & Leadership Development

Colorado Springs, Colorado / United States of America


The Center for Character and Leadership Development embodies the Honor Code and values of the U.S. Air Force Academy. The building's circular geometry places man in the center, and both contrasts and dialogues with the nearby Chapel.

Toroidal in form, the building structural steel basket encloses maximum space with minimum material while the double curvature increases efficiency to form an adibiatic, ventilated air chamber located between two layers of glass: 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 occupants to the heavens.

Reflectivity and transparency between the inner catenoid and outer drum frame nearby mountains and provide 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 the experience of flight in a grounded context. Within an open amphitheatrical "Forum", located at the heart of the project, cadets pursue and debate humanistic values of integrity, leadership, and service. Rings of classrooms overlook this space and act as overflow viewing. The Honor Court, located at the top of the building, looks back towards the Cadet Chapel.

Architect of record

Brian Lee
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
224 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 1000
Chicago, IL 60657, United States
Phone: 312 360 4378
Fax: 312 360 4545