That’s not a futuristic spaceship or a sci-fi movie set – it’s the latest building by world-renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The Innovation, Science, and Technology Building at Florida Polytechnic University is a spectacular daylit building wrapped with a lightweight aluminum trellis that cuts solar gain by 30% – an important consideration in sunny Lakeland, Florida. The interior features vaunted chambers filled with natural light, and the entire building is is topped with a robotic roof that can actually move!
Santiago Calatrava‘s Innovation, Science, and Technology Building spans 200,000 square feet and is constructed from lightweight aluminum, concrete, and glass. These robust materials are elegantly combined to create a structure that is both highly technical yet organic; extremely durable and yet lighter-than-air. An ornate latticed skin extends outwards, shading the interior from excess sunlight while creating comfortable areas for lounging outdoors.
This stark white superstructure is mirrored within by skeletal concrete ribs and vaunted archways that make the building almost appear to be a living creature. This impression is reinforced by its soaring roof – which actually moves! The operable roof consists of 46 aluminum louvers which are driven by hydraulic pistons to regulate sunlight that falls through an immense skylight into the second floor commons area below.
The project was completed on schedule and under its $60 million budget, and it will serve as the primary campus facility for the school with classrooms, laboratories, offices, meeting spaces and an amphitheater. A network of pedestrian causeways and walkways connects the building to the surrounding campus, and the lake that surrounds it serves as a stormwater retention facility and a storage vessel for site irrigation. Florida Polytechnic University is the newest member of the state’s university system, and it will receive its first class of students at the end of the month.
Speaking about the project, Santiago Calatrava said, “I am honored to have been involved in this project dedicated to the study of science, technology, engineering and math – a set of subjects so crucial to our society and our economy. I am proud of what we have all achieved and I hope the young people that study here will be inspired to be creative and to meet their potential.” Calatrava added, “Working with the visionary university leadership and amongst the enthusiastic Lakeland community has been a privilege and I wish everyone associated with this project the best of luck in coming years.”
Photos © Santiago Calatrava