SOM‘s striking Center for Character & Leadership Development (CCLD), designed for the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado is officially open. The focal point of the 46,000-square-foot education and research center is a massive skylight that resembles the tail fin of a plane.

The CCLD’s jaunty profile is intended to complement the academy’s chapel across the quad. The structure hosts a library; forum; large flexible-use social space; conferences; offices; and the Honor Board Room, which sounds like Room 101 but is in fact where alleged violations of the Cadet Honor Code are heard and resolved. Inside the simple maple-clad room, cadets are bathed in light from the aperture above. It’s a reunion building of sorts, as SOM designed the academy’s campus in 1954.

The 105-foot-tall skylight, constructed from diagonal steel plates arranged in a triangular grid, is aligned with the North Star, a nod to navigation heritage and the academy’s founding principles. The skylight illuminates the forum, which is terraced to accommodate large crowds. Surrounding this central space are glazed meeting rooms that grab light from the main space.

The building is designed to garner a LEED Silver rating, with radiant heating and cooling, a solar chimney within the skylight to channel hot air out, and an abundance of natural light from both the skylight and two courtyards that flank the structure.

Related Stories