CLEVELAND — The last time new office buildings went up at the NASA Glenn Research Center, John F. Kennedy was president and the Beatles had yet to trigger their British invasion of America.
Which is why the center’s new $20.5 million, energy-efficient and ultra-modern Mission Integration Center is a big deal.
The 90,000-square-foot, three-story building was formally unveiled during morning ceremonies Wednesday.
As a few hundred employees looked on, NASA Glenn Director James M. Free said “the whole spirit of the building is one of collaboration.
“This represents an agency-wide change in how we will do business at NASA,” Free said.
Begun in September 2010, the center will house about 300 NASA employees working as members of various project teams in an open and flexible setting.
NASA Glenn Research Center employs 1,626 people directly. Another 1,511 also work at the facility under contracts to other companies. Two-thirds of NASA Glenn’s own employees are scientists and engineers.
About 15.6 percent of the center’s 1,626 workers reside in Lorain County, with the most coming from North Ridgeville, Avon and Avon Lake, according to NASA Glenn public affairs officer Frank Jennings Jr.
Noting the detail and creative thought that went into the building’s design, Free said the MIC, as it is more commonly called, marks the first major step in the center’s long-term master plan to create a centralized campus by gradually updating or replacing buildings that have stood since World War II.
The MIC is the facility’s first all-new office building since a pair of office buildings went up in 1963-64 on the north side of Brookpark Road to house NASA’s big Centaur project, which assumed development of the problem-plagued workhorse rocket booster from the Department of Defense in the early 1960s.
Then known as Lewis Research Center, the facility eventually oversaw production of 80 Centaurs, whose powerful engines and liquid-hydrogen/liquid oxygen fuel were the forerunners of engines aboard the Apollo Saturn rockets, as well as the Space Shuttle.
The MIC building will continue NASA’s exploration efforts with projects including the Orion, NASA’s next major project, which calls for a spacecraft that will carry four astronauts for deep-space exploration, including missions to Mars.
The MIC is a gold certification recipient by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, which is regarded as the nationally accepted benchmark for design, construction and operation of high-efficiency green buildings.
Officials said the new building is designed to use 30 percent less energy, 40 percent less water and made use of 32 percent recycled content.
Workers and visitors are greeted by what the center terms “Earth as Art” or sizable murals that are enlarged photos of various points on the globe as captured by orbiting NASA satellites.
Hallways and lobbies are home to high-definition video walls displaying a variety of NASA images, as well as interactive energy boards, which continually monitor and update energy usage in the building while serving up weather reports at the touch of a finger.
One of the center’s most impressive views is from the expansive windows of what Tim Wardlow, project manager for the MIC, termed “the most coveted conference room in the building.”
The spacious executive conference room overlooks other NASA Glenn buildings, as well as arriving and departing aircraft at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport to the east.
NASA Glenn’s master plan next calls for a new, energy-efficient research and support building that will be connected to the MIC. Construction on that project is expected to get underway in 2017.
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.