The new Aerospace Engineering Sciences Building at the University of Colorado was designed as a ‘Center of Gravity’ for the Aerospace Department and Gage Brothers manufactured the precast concrete that was used to build it.
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 of the building explores the concept of propulsion, the action of driving forward, through the vertical precast plates that ‘pleat’ across the south façade pulling toward the entry. The angles of the precast plates were analyzed to control heat gain, reduce glare, and maximize daylight, while still allowing views out from the interior of the building. As a result of this scrutiny, 76% of the Aerospace Engineering Sciences’ building spaces are daylit with views.
After exploring other materials, precast concrete was selected for this dynamic façade due to its flexible nature, its longevity and its natural beauty. Over fifty feet in height and one 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.
The natural material appears to defy nature as it soars above the ground. Additionally, precast was utilized as windowsills and parapet copings, picking up the patter language of the surrounding campus buildings while allowing the south elevation to be a signature element that speaks to the aerospace program.