Feds select Google affiliate to re-cover Moffett Field's Hangar One
Today (Monday, February 10, 2014) the federal General Services Administration and NASA announced that they had selected Google affiliate Planetary Ventures LLC to negotiate a lease for the eastern half of the former Moffett Naval Air Station, now a part of NASA's Ames Research Center. This is a key milestone in the effort, spearheaded by local activists and Navy veterans, to preserve and reuse the massive historic Hangar One, built to house the U.S.S. Macon dirigible in the 1930s. Since the Navy removed the hangar's toxic siding and roofing more than a year, the Hangar's frame has stood not only as a symbol of the history of Silicon Valley technology but also as a monument to dysfunctionality in the federal government.
Planetary Ventures has agreed to re-skin the Hangar within 18 months of signing a lease later this year. The company plans to operate the Moffett runways at a level similar to its current use, continue operation of the golf course, rehabilitate the former base's other two giant airship hangars, and build a 90,000-square-foot public use educational facility.
While Google has demonstrated an ability to make money where other businesses could not, the tens of millions of dollars needed to restore the hangar should be considered a charitable investment, at least for now. Google leadership appears to recognize the historic and symbolic value of the structure.
Two other entities submitted bids to NASA in response to a competitive request for proposals last year. Google reportedly had far and away the best bid, suggesting that NASA past relationship with the firm was a sound business decision, not political favoritism.
While the selection of a firm willing to restore the hangar is a victory for the local community, many challenges remains:
1. Making sure that the new airfield operators don't increase the amount of noise experienced by area residents;
2. Ensuring that the residual PCB contamination on the hangar frame and toxic TCE solvents in the underlying groundwater do not pose a health risk to building occupants and others in the area;
3. Balancing employment and other building uses at Moffett with the local housing supply and minimizing the impact of new development on already jammed area traffic; and
4. Creating a world-class educational center in a space much smaller than the museum/educational center proposed for Hangar One by many in the community.
For some of the initial press coverage of the announcement, go to
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