United States Naval Academy Cyber Studies Building – Hopper Hall

Almost 50 years since the United States Naval Academy (USNA) last erected a building on its historic campus in Annapolis, Maryland, the new Cyber Studies Building—Hopper Hall—is transforming the academic experience for midshipmen. Hopper Hall is the first building at a United States Armed Forces academy to be dedicated to the study of cyber security. Named for Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, a pioneer in computer science, it is also the first academic building named after a woman at a major U.S. service academy.

Hopper Hall optimizes the USNA’s project-based learning curriculum in cyber security and computer science. The 206,400-square-foot building offers classrooms, seminar spaces, laboratories, and research facilities—including a power studio lab, a green energy lab, an optics lab, and an anechoic chamber. On the ground level, two aquatic testing facilities—the Surface and Underwater Robotics Facility and the Shared Waterfront Activities Lab—are equipped with highly advanced technology such as sand filtration, sanitizing systems, video-capturing equipment, a three-dimensional motion-tracking system, and a monorail capable of lifting submersible vehicles weighing up to two tons. The multidisciplinary building augments coursework in other programs with an aerial robotics testing facility and an observatory at the top level.

The design of Hopper Hall is inspired by its location along the Severn River, where it lies between two modernist buildings at the edge of Isherwood Terrace, an elevated open space. With a horizontal massing, a regular grid of punched windows, and a precast concrete facade, the building harmonizes with the scale, color, and materiality of its neighbors. Near the ground level, the building accentuates views of the water with a two-story, 6,000-square-foot communal space called the “Bridge”—an informal lobby and event space that begins at the entrance and ends near an outdoor staircase leading to the waterfront.

The architecture targets LEED® Silver certification, primarily by optimizing air quality, water use, energy performance, window-to-wall ratio, and resiliency. As a perimeter building, Hopper Hall had to be blast resistant. And as a structure built on reclaimed land within the 100-year floodplain—an extraordinary technical challenge—the building is resilient to flooding. This resiliency is achieved, in part, through the building’s programmatic stacking, in which the aquatic-based labs reside in the base of the building—where the facade is most solid—while the data labs, faculty offices, and instructional and event spaces are housed on the higher floors.