State-of-the-art technology and collaborative spaces will accelerate cyber research and development capabilities, providing faster solutions to critical issues.

To bring together numerous cyber entities to collaborate, test and teach, the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) and AECOM worked together to design and program the new 45,000-square-foot Madera Cyber Innovation Center to maximize flexibility, security, and collaboration. Leveraging a new operating and speed to market model, the Madera Cyber Innovation Center brings together Air Force CyberWorx, the Department of Homeland Security’s Center of Innovation and the Academy’s Department of Computer and Cyber Sciences under one roof. This collaborative force will attract a variety of problem solvers — military operators, industry leaders, academics and cadets — to educate, design and develop effective cyber solutions.

AECOM led a collaborative and integrated design process that started with a series of design charrettes aimed at creating dialogue and gathering input from various stakeholder groups, including CyberWorx leadership, USAFA, cadets, the Air Force Academy Foundation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District.

The Madera Cyber Innovation Center required a specialized security and IT solution to accommodate private sector collaborators and the mission of cyber research. AECOM positioned the main building entry to bring visitors into a lobby/gallery space that is outside of the secure space. Visitors will then be escorted to the upper floors that are inside the secure area. The design included mobile technology and flexible AV/IT configurations into the facility, along with the ability to capture and rebroadcast activities and lectures to the rest of the USAFA campus.

With a mission purpose rooted in applying design thinking to complex problem-solving, the project team was tasked to develop a unique, vibrant, and flexible interior environment. Basing the design on a 7-foot by 7-foot module consistent with the planning of USAFA, they planned and programmed an interior that is easily reconfigurable to accommodate technology advancements. For the third level, which houses the design studio, cyber labs are interspersed between open collaboration and semi-private collaboration spaces, resulting in a high level of transparency, connectivity, and flexibility.

The team completed a full site and utility assessment, including environmental impact studies. Site design features included an access road and surface parking, site and facility AT/FP and compliance with U.S. Air Force sustainability standards. Sustainability features included maximizing daylight and thermal gain controls through building form and the design of a geo-thermal heating and cooling system. The facility was designed to achieve LEED Silver certification.

To address the historic nature of the campus and successfully navigate the approval process, which included the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service (given the Cadet Area’s National Historic Landmark District designation), the team created a design that is visually consistent with the existing modernist architecture of the campus. The team’s extensive knowledge of history, evolution and future planning of USAFA allowed the team to create an innovative solution that expresses the forward thinking and progressive nature of the Madera Cyber Innovation Center’s program within the framework of the existing architecture.