The Mori Hosseini Student Union at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida, designed by ikon.5 architects, is an expression of the university’s mission to teach the science, practice, and business of aviation and aerospace.
The building’s soaring form expressing flight creates an iconic identity for the university and embodies the values of fearlessness, adventure, and discovery.
Programmatically, the 16,444-m2 (177,000-sf) student union building is an aeronautical athenaeum combining social learning spaces, an events center, club offices, student affairs offices, career services, dining, and the university library. Triple-height commons integrate the collaborative social and learning environments. The lounges, dining venues, group study rooms, clubs and organization offices, career services, student affairs, and the university library wrap the commons and culminate in a multi-story amphitheater overlooking the commons and building entry. The amphitheater, an event center that can accommodate up to 900 people is housed on the first floor. The top floor houses the university library, which is set beneath a 61-m (200-ft) arching skylight that opens to the sky. A roof terrace on the second floor allows students to gaze on the adjacent runway of Daytona International Airport and beyond to rocket launches from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral.
Creating this athenaeum of program spaces for students of aviation and aerospace technology within a building that characterizes fearlessness and discovery of flight has given Embry-Riddle an iconic main building that appropriately expresses their mission. Key to embodying the ethos of Embry-Riddle in architectural form is the structural steel expression that illustrates movement, flight, and aerodynamics both externally and internally. The curving bowed roof on top of the structure not only provides solar shading from the harsh Floridian sun but also invokes sinuous avian forms. The vertical, exposed struts convey a feather-like quality and are structural members tying down the curved roof form from wind uplift, particularly, for hurricane resistance. The exposed double arches that wrap the exterior support the vertical roof struts at the shading overhang and signify the main entrances to the building. Internally, an exposed 61-m curving steel arch bisects the middle of the plan and supports a glass roof above, allowing the students of aviation the ability to look skyward while inside. The building’s architecturally exposed structural steel (AESS) is an integral design element and helps create an exterior and interior aesthetic that feels finished and dynamic.