Florida Polytechnic University - designed to inspire

5/23/2013 1:51 PM CET

Florida Polytechnic University will open in 2014. The landmark campus of the state's newest university has been designed by world-renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

Architect's rendering of the Innovation, Science and Technology Building, the centerpiece of new Florida Polytechnic University

Designed by world-renowned architect Calatrava

This spring, the centerpiece of the new university catches the eye of the motorists on the Interstate 4 in Lakeland, between Tampa and Orlando.

- Is it a space ship or a giant flower bud? No, it is the future university's Innovation, Science and Technology Building, designed by world-famous architect Santiago Calatrava. The 160,000-square foot facility will house classrooms, labs, auditoriums and offices.

In April, the project reached topping out and Calatrava and the university's Board of Trustees were there to watch the top beam being lifted into place.

Beauty not the equivalent of expensive

Santiago Calatrava's long track-record of exclusive design projects has accumulated since the 1970s. But he declines to pick a favorite.

"They are all like your children – you don't want to favor one," says Santiago Calatrava. "But of course the latest one is foremost in your mind. Florida Polytechnic is special to me because here we have demonstrated that you can have high-end design within a strict budget. Beauty is not the equivalent of expensive."


Santiago Calatrava and Chuck Jablon, Vice President, Skanska USA Building

"This is living proof that you can complete an inspiring architectural design building for 60 million US dollars.

"It is really exciting to be able to contribute to putting Florida Polytechnic on the map. It is with great pleasure that I see it being realized in line with my intentions. Chuck, his Skanska-team and subcontractor partners are doing a great job!"

Unique design with operable roof

The campus design is unique, with concrete and steel columns arranged vertically to allow light to flow in and through the building, also reflecting the water that will surround it. And when shade from the sun is needed, aluminum louvers will take care of that. The roof is operable which will make the louvers rise like butterfly wings to maximize the shading effect.

Design aims at inspirational environment for students and staff

What are your thoughts behind the design?

"My first aim is to make an inspirational environment for the students and the professors and everyone working here.

"I want it to be welcoming and inspiring. When they arrive here, parking their bikes and cars, I want them to feel that the day, the building and the world is full of opportunities. Students should feel optimism, not be gloomy and worried.

"It combines elements of light, air, open views, reflecting water and innovative solutions, and I hope these convey the positive feelings." 


Albert Alfonso, Alfonso Architects, Skanska's Chuck Jablon and Santiago Calatrava at the topping-out ceremony in Lakeland, Florida

Team honored to work on this prestigious project

And inspiration is already at work. The Skanska team with Chuck Jablon, Vice President, Skanska USA Building, are happy to have been chosen for another high end project. In 2011, the team completed the Tampa Museum of Art.

"Our Skanska team feels very honored and delighted to work on this prestigious and exciting Calatrava building that will serve students and the community long into the future," says Chuck Jablon.

"The design is truly unique and there are technical challenges from the foundations and up. The most spectacular of course is the operable roof."

"We are working closely with Mr. Calatrava to be able to realize his intentions on time and budget," Chuck concludes as the final top beam is put in place.

Quality of execution exceptional   

"I am astonished to see this coming alive. With the structure in place you get a clear perception of the final impression. I am watching it like a photographer, I see lines, light and structure. And the quality of execution is exceptional, you can feel the passion that is built in," concludes Santiago Calatrava.

Project facts

Florida Polytechnic University Lakeland, Florida's 12th university
Building area: 160,000 sq. feet
New campus area: 178 acres
Contract value: USD 60 million
Construction start: March 2012
Completion: June 2014