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United States Air Force Academy Center for Character & Leadership Development

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill


U.S. Air Force Academy

Project Status


Year Completed



46,500 sq. feet

Certifications and Designations

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Project Description


In the 1950s, SOM famously master planned a rigorously modern campus for the U.S. Air Force Academy on a site abutting the Rocky Mountains. More recently, SOM revisited the campus — now a National Historic Landmark District — to design a home for the newly created Center for Character & Leadership Development.

The building’s most prominent feature, a 105-foot-tall skylight, symbolically serves as a navigation aid and as a reminder of the Academy’s core values. Shaped like an aircraft tailfin, this glass-enclosed structure precisely aligns with the North Star. The skylight also provides ample natural light for the Honor Board Room below.

Classrooms and offices ring two adjacent courtyards, maximizing exterior views and minimizing the need for artificial lighting. Earth tubes precool air entering the building, one of many sustainable features that will enable the building to earn LEED® Silver certification.
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