Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space / Foster and Partners

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Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space / Foster and Partners
© Nigel Young
Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space / Foster and Partners
© Nigel Young

Project Details:
Location: New Mexico, USA
Type: Public Transportation
Site Area: 300,000ft² / 27,880m² including apron
Gross Area: 110,000 ft² / 10,219m²
Architects: Foster and Partnerswww.fosterandpartners.com
Client: New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA)
Tenant: Virgin Galactic

The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space, a combined terminal and hangar facility, will support up to two WhiteKnightTwo and five SpaceShipTwo vehicles. The 120,000 square-foot building has been designed by Foster + Partners, working with URS Corporation and New Mexico architects SMPC.

Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space / Foster and Partners
© Nigel Young

The Gateway will also house all astronaut preparation and celebration facilities, a mission control centre and a friends and family area. Entrance is via a deep channel cut into the landscape and its retaining walls form an exhibition space that documents a history of space exploration alongside the story of the region.

Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space / Foster and Partners
© Nigel Young

With minimal embodied carbon and few additional energy requirements, the scheme has been designed to achieve LEED Gold 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; and maximum use is made of daylight via skylights. Built using local materials and construction techniques, it aims to be both sustainable and sensitive to its surroundings.

Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space / Foster and Partners
© Nigel Young

Sir Richard Branson said:

Today is another history-making day for Virgin Galactic. We are here with a group of incredible people who are helping us lead the way in creating one of the most important new industrial sectors of the 21st century. We’ve never wavered in our commitment to the monumental task of pioneering safe, affordable and clean access to space, or to demonstrate that we mean business at each step along the way.

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