Spaceport America, New Mexico- by Foster + Partners

I have been researching and collecting information on airports recently and came across an interesting project by Foster + Partners.  The project is for the Spaceport America and is located in New Mexico.  It’s 110,000-plus square facility was designed using cost effective, energy-efficient green building practices.   In accordance with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson’s executive order 2006-001 for state buildings, Spaceport America’s terminal hangar facility will be built to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system.

Extensive use of sustainable and clean energy technology throughout the design will ensure that the spaceport will set the standard for environmentally sound design for similar structures in the future. From earth-tubes that will pre-condition the air to reduce HVAC costs by 50-70% to solar thermal panels on the roof for hot water to the embedded in-floor loop system, Spaceport America is both unique and iconic in terms of visual and environmental design.


Foster + Partners’ project description:

‘The Spaceport lies low within the desert-like landscape of the site in New Mexico and seen from the historic El Camino Real trail, the organic form of the terminal resembles a rise in the landscape. Using local materials and regional construction techniques, it is both sustainable and sensitive to its surroundings.

Organized into a highly efficient and rational plan, the Spaceport has been designed to relate to the dimensions of the spacecraft. There is also a careful balance between accessibility and privacy. The astronauts’ areas and visitor spaces are fully integrated with the rest of the building to convey the thrill of space travel. The more sensitive zones – such as the control room – are visible, but have limited access.

Visitors and astronauts enter the building via a deep channel cut into the landscape. The retaining walls form an exhibition space that documents the history of the region and its settlers, alongside a history of space exploration. The strong linear axis continues on a galleried level to the ‘superhangar’ – which houses the spacecraft and the simulation room – through to the terminal building.

Designed to have minimal embodied carbon and few additional energy requirements, the scheme has been designed to achieve the prestigious LEED Platinum accreditation. The low-lying form is dug into the landscape to exploit the thermal mass, which buffers the building from the extremes of the New Mexico climate as well as catching the westerly winds for ventilation. Natural light enters via skylights, with a glazed façade reserved for the terminal building, establishing a platform for the coveted views onto the runway.’

Client: New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA), Virgin Galactic (tenant)

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