The image map on the home page shows an aerial view of the NASA Ames Research Center. Hovering your cursor over the hangars and buildings reveals a photograph of each structure and a image bearing a brief description of each structure. The content of each description is provided below.
Hangar 1 was built in 1932 as a dirigible hangar. It housed the USS Macon, a U.S. Navy dirigible. The hangar structure consists of steel truss arches, metallic sheathing and full clam shell doors which define its distinctive "Streamline Moderne" shape. The sides curve upward and inward to form an elongated dome. Large distinctive rectangular windows, located in four horizontal bands, appear in the slanted side walls of the structure. The hangar is 1,140 feet long, 308 feet wide, 198 feet in height and has approximately 8 acres of floor space (351,000 square feet). One of the two original floodlight towers is also visible adjacent to the hangar. Hangar 1 is a distinctive landmark in the San Francisco Bay area.
Hangars 2 and 3
Hangars 2 and 3 were built in 1942 to house the blimp fleet utilized during World War II. Unlike the steel structure of Hangar 1, the structural members of Hangars 2 and 3 are wood timbers. In fact, they are among the world's largest wood structures. Their execution required tremendous engineering and construction ingenuity. Hangar 2 has 347,000 square feet of floor area and Hangar 3 has 434,000 square feet of floor area. At each of the four corners of the hangars, large concrete piers dominate the entry portals.
This building was originally constructed to be a balloon hangar, which accounts for its large interior open space. The building is 130 feet by 88 feet, 63 feet high, and has 19,691 square feet of floor area. The utilitarian architectural style is typical of the functional outbuildings in the historic district.
One of the original buildings of the Historic District, the steam plant is a large block building massing in an irregular "T" form that is two stories in height. The building is sheathed in stucco with a flat roof. With its ornate pilasters, it is a handsome version of a utilitarian industrial design. Building 10 is located with other functional outbuildings in the service area of the Historic District.
Built as part of the 1933 construction campaign, this one-and-a-half-story, symmetrically-composed concrete building was historically known as the Fire Station, Garage, and Laundry building. Characterized by its distinctive U-shaped plan, which is divided into three wings, the property possesses several original character-defining features, including steel frame multi-lite windows, garage door openings, cement plaster exterior finish, and clay tile gable roof.
This two-story, reinforced concrete building in the Spanish Colonial Revival style possesses a colored stucco finish, large steel-sash multi-lite pivot windows, and a flat roof. Historically, the building had an L-shaped footprint, with a shop area in the north-south wing and a locomotive and crane shed the east-west wing. This footprint was altered in the 1940s when an addition was constructed on the north elevation.
Building 17 is the most prominently sited structure of the Historic District's campus plan. It is located at the end of the of the grass mall and was the first structure constructed for the U.S. Naval Air Station in 1931. This building consists of two stories with a total area of 19,000 square feet and has been used as a Navy headquarters and administration building. The building's architectural style represents a late example of Spanish Colonial Revival style and it includes a distinctive bell tower.
Building 18 was originally designated as the Aerological Building. It has been used for various purposes over the years including a communications and a carrier pigeon deployment facility. The 3,700 square foot building is unique with its third floor observation penthouse room. The architecture is an interpretation of the Spanish Colonial Revival Style.
The Bachelor Enlisted Quarters Building was constructed in 1933. It originally served as a barracks and had a brig in the basement. The central core of the building is of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. The original structure was greatly enlarged with International Style wing additions at both ends. Today it consists of 151,000 square feet of floor area.
Building 20 is the former military Bachelor Officer Quarters. It was built in 1932/1933 era and exhibits an ornamented interpretation of the Spanish Colonial Revival architectural design. The entry of this building includes an elegant grand lobby reminiscent of a fine hotel. A dining hall and kitchen are situated behind the lobby. Much of the interior of the building retains the original custom tile work, paneled wooden doors and arts and crafts lighting.
Buildings 21 and 22
Buildings 21 and 22 were garages built as support structures for the officers residing in the former military Bachelor Officer Quarters (Building 20). Built in 1933, the two properties have identical floor plans, with each building subdivided into nine bays, the endmost bays being emphasized by raised parapets, which are reminiscent of mission style espadañas. Buildings 21 and 22, with the former ambulance garage (Building 24), are significant supportive structures because they compliment the larger, surrounding structures in the historic district.
Building 23, located across the mall from Building 25, was originally designed to serve as the base dispensary for the U.S. Navy. It has two stories and consists of 28,000 square feet of floor area. This building is a elegant representation of the Spanish Colonial Revival design and, like most others of the original U.S. Naval Air Station, dates from the 1932 - 1933 era. The memorial anchor, which is seen in the foreground, is also considered a significant object within the Historic District.
This one-story building used to be an ambulance garage to support the dispensary nearby. The structure is divided into three bays, with the center bay emphasized by a raised parapet suggestive of a mission style espadaña. Building 24 with two other former garages (Buildings 21 and 22) are significant supportive structures because they compliment the larger, surrounding structures in the historic district.
Building 25 was originally utilized by the Navy as a theater and recreation facility. The 24,300 square foot structure is of Spanish Revival style and consists of two stories and a basement. The theater accommodates over 200 people.
Constructed in 1933, Building 26 was the gatehouse for the Naval air station. This one-story concrete structure, finished in colored stucco and topped with a clay tile, hipped roof, is characterized by an L-shaped plan, with an arcade running along the west elevation and an adjoining two-story bay at the southeast corner. As a visitor registration and pass office for NASA Ames today, the building continues its traditional function as a gatehouse.
Buildings 32 and 33
Buildings 32 and 33 served as twin observation towers from which dirigible takeoffs and landings from Hangar 1 were directed. Each is composed of a two-story, square tower with a round, two-story, adjoining bay. The second floor of the round bays are equipped with retractable metal panels, which once opened to reveal a Sperry light and flagmen poised to guide the airships. Although these utilitarian structures are unornamented and simple in form, they are architectural curiosities. Their unusual design, both distinct from and related to the surrounding properties, simultaneously compliments and adds a distinctive counterpoint to the rest of the rectangular structures in the Shenandoah Plaza.
Building N-200 was one of the earliest buildings on the NASA Ames Research campus. It is significant for its use as the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory Administration Building (1942 – 1958) and later as the Ames Research Center Administration Building (1959 – Present). It was originally constructed to house all administrative and office activities at the center, including the offices of the Director and Assistant Director, Center Management offices, Personnel, Procurement, and Central Files. Additionally, the building was the original home to several research divisions, the library, and cafeteria.
Building N-221 is part of the National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex (NFAC), the largest wind tunnel complex in the world, which consists of the 40x80-foot Wind Tunnel, 80x120-foot Wind Tunnel, and Outdoor Aerodynamic Research Facility. Since its construction in 1944, the NFAC has been used to determine the low- and medium-speed aerodynamic characteristics of high-performance aircraft, rotorcraft, and fixed wing, powered-lift V/STOL aircraft. The 40x80-foot wind tunnel in Building N-221 has been entered into the National Register of Historic Places.
Building N-226 houses the 6x6-ft Supersonic Wind Tunnel, which played a crucial role in the discovery of supersonic flight research and improvement of supersonic aircraft and missile designs. The building is believed to be eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. The structure is significant at the national level for its direct association with supersonic flight research and its use as a supersonic wind tunnel testing facility from 1948 to 1988. Additionally, the design and construction is regarded as an exceptional engineering accomplishment in the context of wind tunnel construction.
The Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel complex is the most heavily used wind tunnel in all of NASA. A critical contributor to aerospace advancement since its commissioning in 1956, this complex is where generations of commercial, military and advanced concept aircraft as well as NASA space vehicles have been designed and tested. Every major commercial transport and almost every fighter built in the U.S. over the last 50 years was tested in these tunnels.
In 1985, the complex was designated as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. In May 1986 the American Society of Mechanical Engineers dedicated it as an International Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.
Building N-238 is part of the Arc Jet Complex, which has a rich heritage of over 40 years in thermal protection system development for every NASA space transportation and planetary program. The facilities are designed to produce hypersonic test conditions representative of the high velocity, high altitude portions of an entry trajectory. These are used to simulate the aerothermal heating and forces that develop on the heat shields, leading edges, and other areas of the spacecraft requiring thermal protection during hypervelocity passage through planetary atmospheres.
Constructed in 1967, Building N-243 is a large three-story Brutalist complex that serves as the Flight and Guidance Simulation Laboratory. The structure houses the world’s largest motion-based simulator, which was designed to provide large-amplitude motion to aid in the study of helicopter and vertical/ short take-off and landing (V/STOL) issues specifically relating to research in controls, guidance, displays, automation, and handling qualities of existing or proposed aircraft.
State of California Department of Parks and Recreation, 523 Evaluation Forms for the NASA Ames Research Center Campus, prepared by Page and Turnbull, Inc., 1995.
Architectural Resources Group, Moffett Federal Airfield Building Re-use Guidelines prepared for NASA Ames Research Center, 2004-2007.
NASA Ames Research Center, Self-Guided Tour of Primary Facilities, 2010.