The new Aerospace Engineering Sciences building at the University of Colorado was designed as a “center of gravity.” Inspired by principles of the discipline, the building was designed from the inside out, ensuring the goals for collaborative research and hands-on learning drove the layout. The exterior explores the concept of propulsion through the vertical precast concrete plates that “pleat” across the south façade pulling toward the entry. The pleated façade controls heat gain and glare, while allowing views and daylight to the laboratories and drawing visitors into the expansive lobby.
At 180,000 square feet, the Aerospace Engineering Sciences building offers a mix of active learning classrooms, lecture classrooms, offices, laboratories, and collaborative lounges.
After exploring other materials, precast concrete supplied by Gage Brothers of Sioux Falls., S.D., was selected for this dynamic façade due to its flexible nature, resilience, and natural beauty. Over 50 feet in height and 1 foot in depth, each precast concrete plate is comprised of a series of panels that work together to create a uniform “wing-like” form that angles toward the front entry, propelling visitors into the building.
Precast concrete was also utilized as windowsills and parapet copings, picking up the pattern language of the surrounding campus buildings while allowing the south elevation to be a signature element that speaks to the aerospace program.