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Summary of Historic Properties
NASA Ames Research Center
Moffett Field, CA

This page provides summaries and supporting documentation for properties at NASA Ames Research Center (ARC) that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places or are eligible for listing. Located in Santa Clara County, California, on the south side of lower San Francisco Bay, Ames Research Center lies between the cities of Sunnyvale and Mountain View. Portions of the site now called NASA ARC have been known in the past as Naval Air Station (NAS) Sunnyvale and NAS Moffett Field (or Moffett Field).

INDEX

National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) Listed and Eligible Properties

Moffett Federal Airfield

Ames Campus

Maps and Tables of NRHP Listed and Eligible Properties

HISTORIC DISTRICTS AND INDIVIDUAL PROPERTIES

US Naval Air Station Sunnyvale, California Historic District (Shenandoah Plaza)

The US Naval Air Station Sunnyvale, California Historic District was listed in the National Register in 1994 as a discontiguous district with two periods of significance: 1930 to 1935 and 1942 to 1946. It consists of the original portions of Shenandoah Plaza at the west side of the airfield, including Hangar 1 and the U.S. Army Wescoat Housing, as well as Hangars 2 and 3 on the east side of Moffett Federal Airfield. The district is significant for its association with coastal defense and naval technology that has made a significant contribution to the broad pattern of our history, and for reflecting the distinctive type, period, method of construction, and high artistic values that are represented in the 1933 station plan and Spanish Colonial Revival buildings.

US Naval Air Station Sunnyvale, California Historic District Airfield Expansion (Eligible)

In 2013, the State Historic Preservation Officer concurred with NASA's determination that the airfield adjacent to the district and its component features were eligible for listing in the National Register as contributors to this district, with an additional period of significance to reflect the jet aircraft program at the airfield. A subsequent study of the airfield recommended a period of significance of 1930-1961 for the district to include significant post-World War II operations there, and provided a list of airfield features that could potentially contribute to the expanded historic district due to their general association and age. These features were not fully evaluated for National Register eligibility and did not receive a formal determination of eligibility. The NRHP nomination was not formally updated to include the adjacent airfield and adjacent component features.

Ames Wind Tunnel Historic District

The NASA Ames Wind Tunnel Historic District is significant for its associations with aeronautical and aerospace research, the development of aircraft and spacecraft, and the evolution of wind tunnel technology in the United States. The district contains one of the world's greatest collection of wind tunnels and is a leading research facility for the aerospace industry.

Contributing properties with construction dates

  • N215: 7- by 10-Foot Wind Tunnel Number 1 and Army Aeromechanics Lab (1941)
  • N220: Technical Services Building (1940)
  • N-221, N-221B: National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex, 40- by 80-foot and 80- by 120-foot wind tunnels, respectively (1944, 1982)
  • N-226: 6- by 6-Foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel (1948)
  • N-227 (N-227A-C): Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel Complex (1956)
  • Portions of DeFrance Avenue and Durand Road

Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel Complex (National Historic Landmark)

  • Listed January 11, 2017 as part of the NASA Ames Wind Tunnel Historic District
  • Listed October 3, 1985 as a National Historic Landmark
  • Listed May 1996 as Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers

The Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel complex was found nationally significant under the Man in Space National Historic Landmark Theme Study (1984).

Administration Building (N200)

The Administration Building is nationally significant in the area of science for its associations with historically significant events and the lives of persons significant in the past, for a period of significance from 1943 to 1965. Completed in 1943, the building served as the administrative headquarters for the intensive research and development efforts undertaken at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics' (NACA) Ames Aeronautical Laboratory facility and later the NASA Ames Research Center. These key research facilities made nationally significant contributions to the fields of aeronautics, aeronautical theory, aviation, and space exploration. Smith J. De France, a pioneer in aeronautics research and development, was responsible for both the initial development of the NACA facility and served as its first director from 1943 to 1965, leading the facility to a reputation as a nationally significant scientific research center.

Arc Jet Complex (N238, N234 and Steam Vacuum System)

This complex is nationally significant for its contributions in the areas of science and engineering related to arc jet research and development at NASA Ames Research Center. Built between 1962 and 1964, the 3-unit complex (N-234, N-238, SVS) is exceptionally significant for its association with advancements in arc jet technology and research and development of Thermal Protection Systems (TPS) for NASA's spaceflight programs, including the exceptional role of the 60-megawatt Interaction Heating Facility arc jet in developing and refining TPS for the Space Shuttle Program. The complex was instrumental in the development of every NASA space transportation and planetary program including Mercury, Apollo, Space Shuttle, Viking, Pioneer, Galileo, Mars Pathfinder, Stardust, National Aero-Space Plane, X-33, X-34, SHARP-B1 and B2, X-37, and Mars Exploration Rovers. The complex meets criteria for properties that have achieved significance in the past 50 years based on the exceptional significance of the facility's contributions to the nationally and internationally important space science programs, and it meets the internal evaluation standards established by NASA for resources associated with the Space Shuttle Program.

Flight and Guidance Simulation Laboratory (N243)

The Flight and Guidance Simulation Laboratory is nationally significant in the areas of science, invention, and engineering. Covering over 108,000 square feet of space, the large Brutalist-style building (1967/1969) housed some of Ames Research Center's most unique air and spacecraft research, testing, and training facilities, including the Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS, 1979), the world's largest and most sophisticated motion-based simulator. The intensive research and development work undertaken in the building made nationally significant contributions to the fields of aeronautics, aeronautical theory, aviation and space flight. The VMS in particular is exceptionally significant within the context of the Space Shuttle Program for its contribution to the development and operation of the Space Shuttle orbiter by providing research and essential astronaut training in an accurately simulated orbiter. The property also meets NASA's guidelines for evaluating historic resources associated with the Space Shuttle Program.

Systems Development Facility (N242)

  • NRHP Eligible

The Systems Development Facility is eligible for the National Register as a highly specialized missile and spacecraft testing facility, and for its contributions to important scientific research related to space exploration. The property qualifies under Criterion A (historically significant events) and Criterion C (distinctive characteristics of a building or facility type). The new facility featured a 100-foot-tall tower with a massive pentagonal test chamber. The test chamber was equipped with moderate vacuum, infrared heating, vibration with variable-frequency shakers, and noise as produced by a rocket motor to simulate lift-off forces.


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NASA Ames Research Center
Historic Preservation Office, MS 213-8
Moffett Field, California 94035-0001
 
Curator: Sr. Archivist
NASA Official:
Jonathan Ikan
Last Updated: May 2021