Since 1954, the United States Air Force Academy has been training cadets on its 18,500-acre-campus on the edge of Colorado Springs, 60 miles south of Denver, Colorado. The Academy is regarded as the site of several midcentury architectural gems, beginning with the striking Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)-designed Cadet Chapel completed in 1963. In 2015, multinational engineering firm AECOM was hired to oversee the renovation of the chapel, which included the immense challenge of eliminating exterior envelope leakage as well as bringing the building up to the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection (AT/FP).
The Academy was apparently so pleased by the renovation under AECOM that the firm was hired last year to design the Center for Cyber Innovation, a bold new addition to the eastern edge of the campus. Supported by $45 million from the USAFA Endowment and $30 million in federal funding, the center will house the academy’s Department of Computer and Cyber Sciences, the Air Force’s CyberWorx center, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Center of Innovation all within the 47,600 square foot facility.
With exposed steel, floor-to-ceiling windows and an impressive cantilevering space above the entrance plaza, AECOM’s design is a respectful nod to the modern mid-century campus that surrounds it. An expansive, naturally-lit lobby and a grand circular staircase comprise the majority of its first floor, punctuated by a grand circular staircase, while its more private second floor includes 31 breakout rooms, three classrooms, and ten collaborative laboratories.
The lightness, clarity, and transparency of the overall design also serves as an encouragement against the relatively dense and cryptic nature of cybersecurity research that will be taking place within its walls, as well as the need for collaboration among the cadets, industry leaders, academics and military operators that will soon work together under one roof.
A date to begin its construction has not yet been announced.