Great Glazing: Spaceport America
Acrobats rappelling down the face of the curtain wall during the facility’s opening ceremonies.
Concept drawing of Spaceport America
The basics: The futuristic Spaceport America facility in Sierra County, N.M., the first commercial spaceport in the world, was designed to blend into its surroundings and appear to gradually rise out of the desert. The spaceport, built and administered by the New Mexico Space Authority, features a large inverted sloped radius custom curtain wall with oversized glass units. A custom anodized balustrade lines the third level observation balcony, and custom curved glass handrails adorn the interior observation areas. Additionally, a long stretch of horseshoe radius storefront windows provide daylighting in the hanger, according to officials from Romanoski Glass and Mirror Co.
"The job proved to be logistically difficult, as the project site was selected for its isolated location—about an hour east of the small town of Truth or Consequences, N.M., and bordered by the White Sands Missile Range to the east," says Romanoski Glass COO Mark Schmidt.
The spaceport is anchored by Virgin Galactic, and is the brainchild of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Airlines mogul Sir Richard Branson. It is designed for regular flights that will shuttle tourists into space in a specially designed and built spacecraft, according to Romanoski Glass officials. The project is scheduled to be completed in early 2012.
The players: Architects, Foster + Partners, URS Corp.; construction manager, Gerald Martin; general contractor, Summit West Construction; glass manufacturer, Pilkington Europe; curtain wall manufacturer, Kawneer Co.; glazing contractor, Romanoski Glass and Mirror Co.
The glass and systems: Insulating, low-emissivity and low-iron glass units that are 1-5/8-inches thick. The largest dimension of the glass is roughly 60 inches by 184 inches.