Google’s Renovation of Hangar One at Moffett Field in Mountain View A

The restoration of Hangar One at NASA Ames Research Center and Moffett Field in Mountain View has officially begun, a project that has been in the works for decades. Google’s Planetary Ventures unit is tasked with bringing the gigantic structure, built in 1933 by the US Navy, back to its former glory. The cleanup of toxic materials and the remediation of other environmental concerns have been underway since the 1980s and they seem to be finally complete. Now giant tarps covering the bones of the structure can be seen, signaling the start of the massive restoration effort.


Hangar one completion rendering. | Rendered via NASA Ames Research Center

” It’s exciting. We have been waiting for this for a long time. It will take some time for this to happen. But it’s a big building. It is one of the largest freestanding buildings in the world. In some ways, it’s a direct link to the technology development that’s happened,” Lenny Siegel of the Save Hangar One committee told Mercury News.

Hangar One render


Hangar one completion rendering. | Rendered via NASA Ames Research Center

Google leases the entire Moffett Field site, including Hangar One, to NASA for the next 60 years, but neither Google nor NASA tell us exactly what Hangar One will be used for once all the work is done. There is widespread speculation that Google’s Planetary Ventures division will use the 1,000-acre site to develop new spacecraft, drones, robots and balloons that provide internet service.

“I am delighted that the restoration of Hangar One is finally beginning. Our community has worked for years to save this historic landmark that defines the landscape of the South Bay area and Silicon Valley. This American icon is also one of the largest free-standing structures in the country,” U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo, who represents Mountain View and other parts of Silicon Valley, said in a statement to Mercury News.

Shed One 1


Photo credit: MOFFETT FIELD HISTORICAL SOCIETY MUSEUM

Hanger One, which has about eight acres of space inside, was originally used by the United States Navy to store the USS Macon rigid airship which ended up crashing in the ocean near Big Sur a few years after its construction. After that it became a massive base for airlift operations for the navy. The skeleton of the building has been on display since 2011 after the Navy removed exterior panels that were believed to be laden with dangerous contaminants.

It’s unclear how long it will take for Google’s renovations to be completed, but given the sheer size of Hangar One, it should take several years. It should be fairly easy for people who live and work nearby to keep an eye on the project as the exterior cladding takes shape. “It’s one of the main historical emblems of Silicon Valley. Most of us in this area drive past Hangar One several times a week, so we really notice it,” Seigal told Mercury News.

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