29 Nov 2017 / IALD /

Illumination of The United States Air Force Academy’s Center for Character and Leadership Development

The United States Air Force Academy’s Center for Character and Leadership Development (CCLD) is a bold symbol of the Academy’s commitment to its Honor Code, the moral center of its curriculum. The Code is succinct: “We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.” The CCLD houses an academic center devoted to integrating these precepts into the Academy’s curriculum, so the design for the space was conceived as a symbol to that code.

U.S.A.F. ACADEMY CENTER FOR CHARACTER

The unusually shaped, glazed structure points to Polaris, the pole star central to classic celestial navigation and consequently a long-time symbol of the Academy’s unwavering moral code. The main gathering space, the Forum, lies beneath the 105’ sloped skylight structure. It operates as a lecture, symposium, and presentation space both day and night, so it needed to support high quality seeing conditions under full Colorado sunlight as well as in a conventional house + stage lighting configuration for evening events.

A triangulated truss system of horizontal plates is hung from the ceiling, acting as both sunshade and light reflector. In parametric simulation, designers studied a variety of truss options in concert with various glazings and the use of graduated opaque frit patterns. The goal was to lower the apparent brightness of sky portions lying with in the audience’s field of view. On sunny days, seating area illuminance hovers around 500 fc. At night, an unconventional array of suspended mirrors reflects and spreads aimed illumination from a system of dimmable narrow-beam LED floodlights located along the base of the skylight. The DMX control system for the Forum includes an automatic daylight harvesting override.

The Center’s offices and academic spaces have conventional LED source illumination with automatic daylight harvesting, but the Wing Honor Board Room refers back to the celestial arrangement of the Forum space. Positioned directly south of the Forum’s stage, but located below-grade, this space is the venue for fact -finding related to alleged infractions of the Honor Code.

These proceedings, run by cadets, center on a conference table located beneath an LED-backlit laylight. Its beveled planes culminate in an elliptical cone-shaped aperture, providing a cadet in the witness chair a perfectly aligned view of the oculus at the top of the skylight and, in concept, the star Polaris lying 434 light years beyond. In this space, you’re never far from the Honor Code and its precepts.


The United States Air Force Academy’s Center for Character and Leadership Development, in Colorado Springs, CO USA, with lighting design by Brandston Partnership, took home an this year Award of Merit in 34th International Lighting Design Awards.

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