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New Flight Projects Building Boasts First NASA Goddard 'Green' Roof
by Cynthia M. O'Carroll for Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Jul 18, 2013


New Flight Projects Building, Building 36, west elevation. Credit: NASA/Goddard.

Excavation is now underway for the new Flight Projects Building, Building 36, at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The building was designed to bring in light and will include a "green" roof. This unique building, designed by architects and engineers at AECOM's office in Arlington, Va., these features ensure that it will be much more than just another brick and mortar government building.

"Our newest building merges functional requirements with our natural and manmade environment. It is also reflective of the campus history, existing architectural characteristics, the Goddard Facilities Master Plan, and our culture," said Rene Wong Pineiro, Project Manager with Goddard's Facilities Management Division.

The building will be located east of Buildings 12 and 23, and nestled along the existing hillside with a suspended glass core extending out, forming a bridge that ties together the Building 34 area and lower campus. The exterior design respects the surrounding buildings and natural environment, and helps to establish an architectural palette for future NASA Goddard Projects.

The new building will be approximately 120,000 square feet, with four stories of office space and a mechanical penthouse on the roof. It will accommodate about 330 employees, mostly from the Flight Projects Directorate offices, currently located in Buildings 16 and16W, and from the New Opportunities Offices, currently located in Buildings 8 and 86.

The building's central core includes a series of 'suspended' glass meeting spaces, highlighted by an open monumental staircase and a second floor bridge that will allow for unimpeded pedestrian flow throughout the building. Small group collaboration areas will be located at the core of the building on each level, and a second floor symposium room will host approximately 80 people.

On each side of the central core are the office wings that will house project management suites. The interior design includes the use of removeable partitions for private offices that will allow for ultimate flexibility and reorganization of staff as needs change. A combination of clear and translucent/frosted glazing will provide privacy while allowing natural light into the office spaces. There will be conference rooms, copy and storage areas, and pantries for each suite.

The upper floor wings will incorporate glass in transparent, translucent and opaque panels, allowing for a maximum of natural light and surrounding views while connecting the building's occupants to the outside. Vertical metal fins on the exterior of the building will create a mixture of different shadows and textures and are part of the energy conservation strategy to reduce heat gain and prevent glare in the offices.

The exterior of the building will incorporate terracotta, glass, and a metal curtain wall, providing a palette of materials and colors to achieve a harmony and balance with the existing campus style. Terracotta panels feature the natural material quality, color, and modular nature of the adjacent brick buildings, but employ a modern curtain wall approach. The terracotta is used as a backdrop to define larger volumes, and from which the glass elements are suspended.

"This will be the first Goddard building to include a small "green" roof top terrace and it will be accessed from the third floor lobby. This small deck with seating areas will provide a peaceful retreat overlooking the wooded area beyond," said Katie Chakola, Deputy Project Manager.

The low maintenance landscaping surrounding the building will provide outdoor gathering and seating spaces at the main entrance and along the south side of the site, as well as additional seating along the east side.

The new building was designed to meet the Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification requirements and will be the fourth LEED-certified building at Goddard. The LEED program uses a rating system checklist for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. These strategies aim at increasing performance, reducing waste and improving quality of life.

The construction trailers were brought onsite in mid-April and the site was officially closed to the public at the end of the month. The work that occurred in May included installing the construction site fence, excavating the current parking lot surface, and implementing the sediment and erosion control measures with the Maryland Department of the Environment. Site excavation for the building foundations began in June. During upcoming months, the concrete foundation will be formed and poured and the four-story steel infrastructure will be erected.

The structure is targeted for completion by the spring of 2015.

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