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How the Air Force Academy helped set the bar for modernist campus design

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How the Air Force Academy helped set the bar for modernist campus design How the Air Force Academy helped set the bar for modernist campus design

How the Air Force Academy helped set the bar for modernist campus design

More than half a century after it was built, the landmark still presents a daring vision for a modern university Back-to-school time brings visions of quads ringed by brick buildings, and idyllic institutions basking in tradition. When most universities follow the blueprints set by traditional forebearers such as Harvard or Oxford, how do you create a modernist campus that still resonates with pride and symbolism, without lifting from the language of ivy-clad academia"
For the legendary Air Force Academy outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado, it required a radical jump into midcentury design. Master planned in the ?50s by a Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill (SOM) led by the then 34-year-old Walter Netsch, the site high in the Rockies has become a National Landmark, due to its sharp layout and striking Cadet Chapel, a transcendent religious building that looks like a fleet of jet straining towards the heavens. Streamlined steel, strength, and fearlessness, all set against the backdrop of the Rockies and an azure mountain sky; what better symbol, and site, for a school training Air Force officers"
According to Roger Duffy, design partner at SOM, this masterpiece in institutional design almost didn?t happen. When the Air Force decided to create a new campus to train officers, it was still relatively young, having just become independent after being part of the Army in WWII. Perhaps owing to its youth, the generals and bureaucrats who would be approving the campus layout initially favored a more weighty, West Point-like aesthetic on the plateau chosen for the school, something heavy, with gravitas.
Magda Biernat
The Air Force Academy

It took a powerful vision from Netsch and his team to win the commission and shift the bureaucracy away from their love of more traditional layout. The entire campus, in some ways as straight and narrow as a new recruit's buzz cut, was laid out following a unifying system, based on multiples of seven (inspired in part by Netsch?s love of Japanese design). The SOM team supposedly took care of every detail down to the silverware in the dining halls, and utilized state-of-the-art materials to create an orderly, streamlined educational experience.
The centerpiece is the Cadet Chapel, completed in 1962, which Duffy says stands as a spiritual symbol of the academy. While other buildings fit into the tightly aligned organizational system, drawing their visual power from organization and discipline, like cadets in marching formations, the chapel was allowed to stand out, and for good reason.

Hedrich Blessing

A towering structure formed from a row of 17 spires that sit on a series of steel framed tetrahedrons, the Chapel is a piece of art, a muscular, space age design that offers an update on shape and style of historic cathedrals. Netsch was sketching ideas one day and began folding the paper into origami, eventually hitting upon the geometric shapes as he be...
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How the Air Force Academy helped set the bar for modernist campus design How the Air Force Academy helped set the bar for modernist campus design


Fuente de la noticia: curbed
Fecha de publicación: 09-09-2016 21:52
visto: 52

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