Here are images of the winning competition entry that Foster + Partners provided to the New Mexico Spaceport Authority for the Spaceport America Terminal that will house Virgin Galactic aircraft.
Lying subtly and sumptuously on the landscape in the Mojave Desert, a hundred miles north of Los Angeles, the Terminal building’s “wings” are evocative of a dancer’s arms gracefully outspread, head bowing to the east, providing anything but a minimal visual experience.
Visitors and astronauts are likely to be slowly drawn from their engagement with the Masai Mara-like valley surrounding the Terminal building to a total immersion in the architecture. The procession to and through the building is dramatically choreographed. As visitors steadily lose sight of and touch with the landscape, they become enveloped in the gorge cut from the circular ellipse of the building.
Upon arrival at the iris of the Virgin Galactic eye, visitors on the mezzanine level can see the expanse of the hangar’s interior and are faced with a two-story unbroken expanse of window that brings the Spaceport’s runway into juxtaposition with the backdrop of the Mesilla Valley’s mountainous edge. The clerestory oculus directly in the center bathes the interior with its white desert sunlight by day and cosmic blue lighting by night.
Flights are two years away and cost approximately $200,000 USD a ticket, and so far more than 400 people have already booked their seats.
FACTS & FIGURES
* Client: New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA)
* Tenant: Virgin Galactic
* Site Area: 300,000 sq. ft.
* Gross Area: 110,000 sq. ft.
* Arch. & Eng. PM, Structural & MEP Eng.: URS Corporation
* Architectural Lead Design: Foster + Partners
* Architecture: SMPC Architects
* Environmental Design/LEED: PHA Consult
* Cost Estimating: Balis and Company
* Sustainability: Designed to achieve LEED certification; Thermal labyrinth formed in rocks under the earth berm to cool the building; Photovoltaic and solar panels; Thin shell concrete roof for thermal mass; Underfloor radiant cooling and heating; Natural ventilation in mid season