You can’t tell by looking at it, but most of the two-story building that anchors Florida’s newest and only public university devoted to science, technology, engineering, and math is made of concrete.

That’s because the curved aluminum pergolas that run around the outside of the oval building grab your attention first. So does the aluminum fan above the glass roof that, like louvered blinds, rotates to shade classrooms, auditorium, offices, and labs as the sun moves from east to west every day.

They’re both very, very cool. But neither would be possible without the award-winning skeleton provided by cast-in-place specialist Baker Concrete Construction Inc. Founded in Oxford, Ohio, in 1968 by the grandson of a cement and stone mason, the company’s 13 locations have worked on such iconic projects as the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and Denver’s Mile-High Stadium. With Florida Polytechnic University’s Innovation, Science, and Technology Building, the company’s Ft. Lauderdale office adds Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava’s distinctive work to that list.

Originally designed to be steel, the building’s structural material was switched to reinforced concrete by the general contractor. Baker Concrete provided an oval ring beam 72 inches deep and 30 inches wide, which supports the roof and provides the sternum to which a ribcage of structural columns attaches.

Architectural concrete began with 142 column portals spaced at 8 feet on center in a curving layout that frames the hallway and supports the second story. Their shape required triangular bracing between two columns, using self-consolidating concrete to monolithically pour. After column construction, the second-floor elevated beams and slabs were completed and followed by polished ground-floor concrete slabs.

The two entrances began with perimeter architectural concrete columns connecting to 16 unique raker portals. These portals support the roof and tie into the concrete ring through which the sun shines to illuminate the grand entry’s polished concrete stairs.

Don Marks and Geoff Bunnell accepted the American Society of Concrete Contractors’ Decorative Concrete Council’s grand prize on behalf of Baker Concrete Construction at World of Concrete last month. That’s where the council announced winners of its eighth annual award program.

See photos and more details of the 28 winners and the Second Place winners.

Visit to submit a project for next year’s awards.