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Wind Tunnel Historic District
NASA Ames Research Center

Map of the wind tunnel historic district identifying contributing buildings

On January 11, 2017, the NASA Ames Wind Tunnel Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Constructed between 1940 and 1985, the NASA Ames Wind Tunnel Historic District is deemed 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. This district contains one of the world's greatest collections of wind tunnels, and remains a leading research facility for the aerospace industry.

The NASA Ames Wind Tunnel Historic District's period of significance extends from 1940 to the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011, although additional significance associated with the ongoing research conducted in the wind tunnels may be realized in the future.

The district consists of five contributing buildings:

  • 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-D: Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel Complex (1956). This complex is also a National Historic Landmark.


+ National Register of Historic Places Evaluation/Return Sheet
+ National Register of Historic Places Registration documentation



Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel Complex:
A National Historic Landmark and Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark

On October 3, 1985, the Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel complex was nominated and accepted by the Department of Interior as a National Historic Landmark. In May 1996, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers dedicated the complex as an International Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.

Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel facts:

  • Site Covers 11 Acres
  • Construction began in 1951 at a cost of $32 million
  • Integration of the basic design embodies three test sections for different speeds so that a single model can be tested over the entire speed range from Mach 0.40 to Mach 3.45
Image: Cover of Man in Space Study  
+ Download the study

Dr. Harry A. Butowsky of the National Park Service (NPS) was charged with completing the National Historic Landmark Theme Study "Man in Space" in 1983, with the NPS accepting the National Historic Landmark nominations in 1984.

The study shows how the assets were divided into 12 categories:
A. Wind Tunnels (4)
B. Engine Development (3)
C. Rocket Engine Test Stands (3)
D. Rocket Test Facility (1)
E. Rocket (1)
F. Launch Pads (1)
G. Apollo Training Facilities (4)
H. Apollo Hardware Test Facility (1)
I. Unmanned Spacecraft Test Facilities (3)
J. Tracking Station (1)
K. Mission Control Centers (2)
L. Other Support Facility (1)>br />

+ Download the agreement

In 1989 NASA, the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO), and the Advisory Council on HIstoric Preservation (ACHP) signed a programmatic agreement regarding designated national historic landmarks, including Ames Research Center's National Historic Landmark, the Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel complex.

(Source of cover image: National Park Service


+ Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
+ National Historic Preservation Act
+ State of CA Office of Historic Preservation
+ NASA Ames Environmental Services
+ NASA Ames History Archives
+ NASA NETS (Government access only)
+ Internal Site (Government access only)
+ Freedom of Information Act
+ NASA Privacy Statement

NASA Ames Research Center
Historic Preservation Office, MS 213-8
Moffett Field, California 94035-0001
Curator: Sr. Archivist
NASA Official:
Jonathan Ikan
Last Updated: September 2020