The Foster + Partners and URS team has won an international competition to build The New Mexico Spaceport Authority Building, the first private spaceport in the world. Located in New Mexico, the sleek and winding building can be seen from the El Camino Real trail in all its alluring and dramatic glory, meant to communicate the nature of space travel itself.
The Spaceport is built by regional construction techniques with local materials, making it both sustainable and sensitive to its environment. It is designed to have the minimum amount of carbon and few additional energy requirements, thus achieving the esteemed LEED Platinum accreditation. The low-lying structure is situated into the landscape to make use of the thermal mass, which protects the building from the extreme climates of New Mexico and traps winds for ventilation. Skylights illuminate the building, with a glazed façade in the terminal building, creating a platform for the views onto the runway.
The building has been designed with respect to the spacecraft’s dimensions. It maintains a careful balance between accessibility and privacy; astronaut areas and visitor spaces are incorporated into the rest of the building while the more sensitive zones—such as the control room—have restricted access. The visibility of these spaces gives off a sense of the excitement of space travel.
Both visitors and astronauts enter the building through somewhat of a deep indentation into the landscape. Certain walls feature historical exhibits telling of the history of the region and its settlers, as well as a history of space exploration. An exhibit level leads to the “superhangar,” which holds the spacecraft and simulation room.