New Academy Visitor Center construction underway

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Zach Vaughn
  • U.S. Air Force Academy Strategic Communications

Residents and visitors to the Colorado Springs region may have noticed a construction project on the U.S. Air Force Academy during their travel on Interstate 25.

City For Champions Initiative

The skeleton steel structure soaring above the Academy’s North Gate is a new visitor center named after former Academy Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Bradley Hosmer and his wife, Zita. Officials expect the building to be an integral part of a 57-acre development encompassing other landmarks called TrueNorth Commons. The center will provide visitors with easier access and serve as a Colorado-state welcome center.

“It’s crucial to highlight the extraordinary partnership between the Academy and the City of Colorado Springs, The State of Colorado, Secretary of the Air Force, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center and a host of civilian organizations for this project to come to fruition.” said Sylvette Goodwin, Academy Civil Engineer Project Manager. “Soon, we’ll be adding exhibits experts to this hardworking team.”

The Hosmer Visitor Center is part of a series of projects for Colorado Springs dubbed the “City for Champions Initiative” and is intended to positively impact the region’s economy, workforce and quality of life, according to Goodwin.

Public-Private Partnership

The $32 million structure, designed to symbolize an aircraft taking flight, is a gift-in-kind contribution to the Academy through an Enhanced Use Lease agreement.

“This entire venture is a public-private effort,” said Lisa Neener, the Academy’s Chief of Visitor Experience. “The Academy, with Air Force approval, leased part of our property to a civilian company and in return, that company is building the center’s core and shell.”

Academy officials expect contractors to complete the core and shell by the summer of 2024. Once complete, the structure must pass an inspection before the Academy can receive the building’s keys, according to Neener.

“To be involved with such a significant project that’s going to sit as the gateway to Colorado Springs is very rewarding,” said Neener. “We’re approaching the design-build phase of the interior and the exhibits of what we expect to attract a million people per year and it’s very exciting.”

Insight into Academy life

The center will offer visitors a unique perspective into cadet life.

“We’re designing an immersive and holistic experience to tell the Academy’s story,” said Neener. “People will get a glimpse of what it’s like to go through the cadet journey and then embark in their service to the U.S. Air Force or Space Force.”

Neener expressed her desire to showcase the legacy of the “Long Blue Line” of Academy graduates and impress the importance of selfless service to future visitors.

Construction Updates

In April, G.E. Johnson, the Visitor Center’s primary civilian contractor, hosted a topping out ceremony which symbolically indicated the completion of the structural components of the project, according to Goodwin.

Lieutenant Gen. Richard Clark, Academy superintendent, along with city and state officials broke ground on the visitor center last July.

Academy officials have not released an expected grand opening date for the center.