New Mexico Spaceport Authority Building
Spaceport America is the first private spaceport in the world. Located in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, the new terminal to the stars was designed by Foster + Parners with architectural and engineering services by URS team. The building is itself a hangar for aircraft, and it provides a space for both the visitors and space tourists, as well as the spaceships themselves.
Zahner was selected as the supplier and installer of the outer Solanum Steel panels which guide visitors into the building. The material is suited both in color and in performance for the New Mexico landscape surrounding the structure. The organic shape of the building rises out of the golden desert as a functional spaceport for the center of international space tourism.
Building the Spaceport
In addition to fabricating and installing the custom exterior panel system, Zahner was brought on as a consulting partner to explore different artistic possibilities for both the interior and exterior metalwork. The team explored a variety of surface options with the design team. The exterior's pre-weathered steel facade panels were installed by Zahner field operators on various aspects of the building envelope.
Zahner produced the Solanum steel gates which unveil the planes within as well as the tapered entrance as visitors first approach the Spaceport.
In some circumstances, the Solanum Steel material can be sealed. This is often desired for trafficked environments where people will touch the surface. For interior applications of Solanum Steel, the material can be sealed with a clear coating to provide a softer touch. However, for exterior applications, it is recommended to leave the material unsealed. Sealing is not recommended for outdoor applications because the coating will require further maintenance over time, and may change appearance as the sealant interacts with the changing environmental conditions.
The project is commissioned by the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) and Virgin Galactic, the company forging the future of space travel for individual citizens. Designed to have minimal carbon impact and meeting many energy requirements, the project is designed to achieve LEED Platinum accreditation.
The low-lying shape of the spaceport benefits from thermal mass, buffering the building from extreme heat and colds common in the New Mexico landscape, as well as catching the westerly winds for ventilation. Natural light enters via skylights, and the glazed east wall provides a platform for viewing the runway.