Hangar One (Moffett Federal Airfield)

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Hangar One
Last Look at Hangar One.jpg
The hangar in 2009
Hangar One (Moffett Federal Airfield) is located in San Jose, California
Hangar One (Moffett Federal Airfield)
Hangar One (Moffett Federal Airfield) is located in California
Hangar One (Moffett Federal Airfield)
Hangar One (Moffett Federal Airfield) is located in the United States
Hangar One (Moffett Federal Airfield)
LocationSanta Clara County, near Mountain View and Sunnyvale, California, USA
Coordinates37°24′46.47″N 122°03′13.91″W / 37.4129083°N 122.0538639°W / 37.4129083; -122.0538639Coordinates: 37°24′46.47″N 122°03′13.91″W / 37.4129083°N 122.0538639°W / 37.4129083; -122.0538639
Area8 acres (32,000 m2)
ArchitectDr. Karl Arnstein and Wilbur Watson Associates Architects and Engineers
Part ofUS Naval Air Station Sunnyvale, California, Historic District (ID94000045[1])
Designated CPFebruary 24, 1994

Hangar One is one of the world's largest freestanding structures, covering 8 acres (3.2 ha) at Moffett Field near Mountain View, California in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The massive hangar has long been one of the most recognizable landmarks of California's Silicon Valley. It was built in the 1930s as a naval airship hangar for the USS Macon and is now part of the NASA Ames Research Center.

Design and construction[edit]

The hangar at its opening in 1933

Designed by German air ship and structural engineer Dr. Karl Arnstein, Vice President and Director of Engineering for the Goodyear Zeppelin Corporation of Akron, Ohio, in collaboration with Wilbur Watson Associates Architects and Engineers of Cleveland, Ohio, Hangar One is constructed on a network of steel girders sheathed with galvanized steel. It rests firmly upon a reinforced pad anchored to concrete pilings. The floor covers 8 acres and can accommodate six (360 feet x 160 feet) American football fields. The airship hangar measures 1,133 feet (345 m) long and 308 feet (94 m) wide. The building has an aerodynamic architecture. Its walls curve inward to form an elongated approximate catenary form 198 feet (60 m) high. The clam-shell doors were designed to reduce turbulence when the Macon moved in and out on windy days. The "orange peel" doors, weighing 200 short tons (180 metric tons) each, are moved by their own 150 horsepower (110 kW) motors operated via an electrical control panel.

The USS Macon in Hangar One on October 15, 1933, following a transcontinental flight from Lakehurst, New Jersey

The hangar's interior is so large that fog sometimes forms near the ceiling.[2]

Standard gauge tracks run through the length of the hangar. During the period of lighter-than-air dirigibles and non-rigid aircraft, the rails extended across the apron and into the fields at each end of the hangar. This tramway facilitated the transportation of an airship on the mooring mast to the hangar interior or to the flight position. During the brief period that the Macon was based at Moffett, Hangar One accommodated not only the giant airship but several smaller non-rigid lighter-than-air craft simultaneously.

Similar structures[edit]

Hangar One is similar to the Goodyear Airdock in Akron, Ohio which was built by the Goodyear Zeppelin Corporation in 1929. At the time the Goodyear Airdock was built, the structure, located in Northeast Ohio, was the largest building in the world without interior supports. It provided an unusually extensive room for the construction of "lighter-than-air" ships (airships, dirigibles, or blimps). The first two airships to be constructed and launched at the Goodyear Airdock were USS Akron and its sister ship, USS Macon, built in 1931 and 1933, respectively. These two airships were 785 feet (239 m) in length.

Other historic references date back to Europe. An outstanding example are the two "hangars d'Orly" for dirigibles at Orly Air Base near Paris. They were designed and built in 1921–1922 by French structural and civil engineer Eugène Freyssinet, the major pioneer of prestressed concrete, and destroyed in World War II.[3]

Another remarkable example of a similar concrete construction are the two airplane hangars for the Italian Air Force in Orvieto, Italy, by Italian architect and structural engineer Pier Luigi Nervi, designed in 1935 and built in 1938. They were also destroyed during World War II.[4][5][6]


Exterior panels removed, September 2012

On February 24, 1994, the Shenandoah Plaza National Historic District, including Hangar One, was accepted into the National Register of Historic Places.[7]

On May 20, 2008, Hangar One was listed as one of the 11 most endangered historic places in the U.S. by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.[8][9]

Plans to convert it to a space and science center were put on hold with the discovery in 2003 that the structure was leaking toxic chemicals into the sediment in wetlands bordering San Francisco Bay. The chemicals originated in the lead paint and toxic materials, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), used to coat the hangar. Proposed options included tearing down the hangar and reusing the land, or cleaning the toxic waste from the site and refurbishing the hangar for future preservation.[citation needed] An offer to clean the hangar and coat its outsides with solar panels to recoup the costs of cleaning was proposed by a private company, but the plan never saw fruition due to its cost.[10]

In December 2010, the Navy began remediating the PCBs, lead and asbestos, and NASA was evaluating options for reuse of the hangar. Some historic and nonprofit groups expressed a desire for the hangar to be preserved as a historic landmark,[citation needed] as the hangar is a major Bay Area landmark and historic site. In April 2011, after months of planning and preparation, work to remove the exterior panels began, requiring "the biggest scaffolding job in the history of the West Coast." The work was completed in mid-2012.[11][12]

In October 2011, Google top executives Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt proposed paying the full $33 million cost of revamping Hangar One, in exchange for being able to use up to two-thirds of the floor space to shelter eight of their private jets.[13][14]

In 2014, NASA and the General Services Administration selected Planetary Ventures (a subsidiary of Google) to manage Hangar One and Moffett airfield,[15][16][17] and Google will pay $1.16 billion over 60 years for the lease.[18][19]

In May 2016, Google announced that it is prepared to begin testing different techniques to remove the toxic chemicals from the hangar.[20] In May 2017, it was announced that the restoration of the hangar would be completed in 2025.[21]

See also[edit]


Hangar One with opened orange peel doors, 1963
  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  2. ^ "U.S. Naval Air Station, Sunnyvale, California, Historic District". National Park Service. Retrieved 2020-12-28.
  3. ^ "Paris: Airship Hangars, Eugène Freyssinet". Essential Architecture. Retrieved 2014-09-30.
  4. ^ Williamson, Mitch (2007-09-12). "Air Plane Hangars by Pier Luigi Nervi". War and Game - Wargaming and History. Archived from the original on 2011-08-16.
  5. ^ "Pier Luigi Nervi: L'Architecture comme défi" (Press release, pdf) (in French). Archizoom, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. 2013. p. 12. Retrieved 2014-09-30.
  6. ^ Masiani, R. "Architettura delle (Infra)Strutture. La forma strutturale nel progetto di Architettura. 5 aprile 2002" (in Italian). Archived from the original on 2008-05-22.
  7. ^ "National Register Information System #94000045". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. Retrieved 2020-12-28.
  8. ^ "2008 List of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places Announced". National Trust for Historic Preservation. 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-07-11.
  9. ^ Barrett, Devlin (2008-05-21). "Threats to history seen in budget cuts, bulldozers". Yahoo! News. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2008-06-03.
  10. ^ "NASA: New Use For Old Moffett Field Dirigible Hangar? Could Become Massive Solar-Power Facility". Aero News Network. 2005-09-06.
  11. ^ "Hangar One: Stripping down of 79-year-old structure nearly complete". San Jose Mercury News. 2012-06-18. Archived from the original on 2013-01-28. Retrieved 2012-09-21.
  12. ^ DeBolt, Daniel (2012-07-19). "A piece of history: Hangar One skinning job wraps up as last piece is removed from frame". Mountain View Voice.
  13. ^ Wolverton, Troy; Marschall, Kristen (2011-10-09). "Google founders offer '100 percent' funding to save Hangar One, NASA considering offer". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2011-12-11.
  14. ^ DeBolt, Daniel (2011-12-08). "Google execs offer to save Hangar One: NASA HQ has no word on offer after two months". Mountain View Voice.
  15. ^ Messier, Doug (2014-02-10). "NASA, GSA Select Google-Owned Planetary Ventures to Manage Moffett Field". Parabolic Arc. Retrieved 2014-02-10.
  16. ^ DeBolt, Daniel (2014-02-14). "Google wins Hangar One lease". Mountain View Voice.
  17. ^ Wilson, Alia (2014-02-13). "Naked no more: Hangar One to be reskinned". San Jose Mercury News.
  18. ^ Northon, Karen M. "NASA Signs Lease with Planetary Ventures LLC for Use of Moffett Airfield and Restoration of Hangar One" NASA, 10 November 2014.
  19. ^ November 2014, Mike Wall 12 (12 November 2014). "Google Leases NASA's Moffett Field, Historic Hangar for $1.2 Billion". Space.com. Retrieved 2021-05-10.
  20. ^ Noack, Mark (25 May 2016). "Google's clean-up plan for Hangar One to get a test run". Mountain View Voice. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  21. ^ Noack, Mark (24 May 2017). "Hangar One restoration to take until 2025". Mountain View Voice. Mountain View Online. Retrieved 21 July 2017.

External links[edit]

Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Park Service.