Santiago Calatrava’s designed IST Building at Florida Polytechnic University near Orlando, Florida

This past weekend included a road trip to Florida’s “mecca land,” Orlando. With two “tweens” in the car, I was essentially the hired “uber” driver so had plenty of time to take in the sights during the drive. While driving along Florida’s Interstate 4, the main highway that runs between Tampa and Orlando, amidst the vast flatness of the landscape, there, positioned between cow fields, an unmistakable work of art appeared. After further research, it turns out to be Florida Polytechnic University’s flagship building, the Innovation, Science, and Technology (IST) Building, designed by none other than the world-renowned Spanish architect Dr. Santiago Calatrava.

Florida Polytechnic University is the state’s newest university and the only one dedicated solely to a curriculum of science, technology, engineering and math.

Construction of the building took 28 months and was completed in 2014 with Skanska USA as the lead contractor. The 162,000-square-foot, white-domed building is a moveable and functional work of art and serves as the university’s main classroom and laboratory building. The building includes a system of 94 louvered arms that raise and lower throughout the day providing passive lighting inside the second-floor atrium. The louvers track the sun above a glass roof. The oval-shaped building is ringed by curved metal pergolas that shade its outer terrace and walkways.

The IST building houses:

  • 26 classrooms
  • Aula Magna auditorium
  • faculty and administrative offices
  • 11,000-square-foot Saddle Creek Logistics Commons
  • seven innovation labs–including a 3D printing lab, cybersecurity lab, and health informatics lab–where students are able to get hands-on experience with the latest technology.
  • Mosaic Café

The skylight above the Commons is shaded by a complex system of aluminum louvers that can be raised or lowered depending on the intensity and position of the sun. A hydraulic brise-soleil admits daylight when open.

In 2016, the building was named one of the 16 “MOST BREATHTAKING” BUILDINGS in the world, placing it alongside iconic structures such as the Parthenon in Greece, the Empire State Building and Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Fallingwater” residence.

Among its accolades, the building earned national recognition in the 2015 Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel awards program (IDEAS2). “This project above all others elevates steel into the 21st century,” commented IDEASawards judge, Paul Endres, S.E., FAIA, a principal with Endrestudio. “Bracing itself with a completely closed system, this structure seems to melt away into the fluid lines of its graceful form.”

READ MORE about this building and the architect.

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