With over a million people watching Atlantis’ trip to the International Space Station, today marked the 135th and final lift off of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. A monumental occasion or as NASA commentator said, a “sentimental journey into history”, the end of America’s 30-year shuttle program also opens the door to ask, what is next for the future of space travels? We are sharing with you Foster + Partners design for The New Mexico Spaceport Authority Building, currently under construction and set for 2011 completion. Winning an international competition in 2006 with team members URS Corporation and SMPC Architects, Foster + Partners created a design concept fit for the first private spaceport in the world. A sinuous shape, the building morphs from the landscape creating interior spaces that seek to capture the drama and mystery of space flight itself, articulating the thrill of space travel for the first space tourists. Renderings and construction photographs following the break.
The Spaceport lies within the desert landscape of New Mexico, seen from the historic route of El Camino Real. Organic forms of terminal recall one of the highlights of the landscape. Using simple materials with local building techniques, along with the projects to be sustainable, it is sensitive to the context where it belongs.
Designed so as to incorporate the least amount of additional carbon and energy, the scheme was designed to obtain LEED Platinum certification. The building, semi buried within the landscape, responds to a desire to exploit the thermal mass, optimizing components occidentals weather and winds in the area of New Mexico for ventilation inside the building. Natural light is an issue that is addressed through large skylights, and a curtain wall façade for the terminal building, complemented by a large platform that enhances the view of the place. Lord Foster said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be part of this dynamic team selected to design the world’s first space terminal. This technically complex building will not only provide dramatic experience for the astronauts and visitors, but to establish an ecological model for future spaceport. ”
Organized in a highly efficient plan, the Spaceport has been designed to relate to the dimensions of the spacecraft. There is also a careful balance between accessibility and privacy as seen in the control area, which is fully visible, but with limited access.
Visitors and astronauts enter the building through a deep channel that runs through the landscape. Retaining walls are a thematic exhibition that documents the history of the region and its early settlers, along with the history of space exploration. The strong linear axis continues on a galleried level which ends in the “super hangar” – which contains spacecraft simulators and quarter.