University of Colorado Boulder
  • Higher Education

180,323 SF

RATIO as Design Architect in association with HCM.

Propelling Aerospace Innovation

Aerospace innovation continues its impressive trajectory in Colorado, thanks in part to research institutions like the University of Colorado Boulder. With a top-five national ranking, the university’s aerospace engineering sciences (AES) department sought a new space — to further propel not just its programs, but an industry, a state, and a nation.

The Challenge

Originally located on CU Boulder’s main campus, the AES building now graces the adjacent research campus, offering stunning views of the Flatiron Mountains. This move provided an opportunity to showcase architectural innovation while respecting the environment and fostering connectivity between campus areas.

Carefully designed around an arrival sequence evoking air movement, the building incorporates aerospace principles into every detail. From its undulating plantings to pleated façade, each element subtly nods to the dynamics of flight. Meeting stringent sustainability standards, the building’s sophisticated design maximizes natural light and encourages collaboration among students and researchers, embodying diversity and innovation at the heart of its purpose.

Pleated Façade

The building’s exterior explores the concept of fluidity, expressing the movement of forces rippling past the vertical precast plates that ‘pleat’ across the south façade, pulling toward the entry.

Vertical-Hung Ceiling Tiles

The interior design builds upon the theme of fluidity. Vertical-hung ceiling tiles imitate air moving rapidly through the lobby.

Iconic Views

Open design allows for easy reconfiguration and maximum access to daylight and views of the area’s iconic Flatiron Mountains. 75% of desks or regularly occupied spaces are located within 25 ft. of the atrium or windows with a view.

PILOT Spaces

The building features 5,000 SF dedicated to PILOT (Practical Innovation and Learning through Observation and Teaching), an aerospace-specific program within CU Boulder’s internationally recognized Integrated Teaching & Learning Laboratory.

The building is an answer to a ‘call to action’ from the state and the nation. It helps us [Colorado] lead the way for the nation’s ambitious future in aerospace.

Chancellor Phil Distefano
University of Colorado Boulder