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Hangar One, US Naval Air Station Sunnyvale, California, Historic District
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
Hangar One, opening 1933
Hangar One (Mountain View, California) is located in California
Location: Mountain View, California and Sunnyvale, California
Coordinates: 37°24′54″N 122°02′54″W / 37.415°N 122.04833°W / 37.415; -122.04833Coordinates: 37°24′54″N 122°02′54″W / 37.415°N 122.04833°W / 37.415; -122.04833
Area: 8 acres (32,000 m2)
Built/Founded: 1933
Architect: Dr. Karl Arnstein and Wilbur Watson Associates Architects and Engineers
Architectural style(s): Mid-Century Modern
Governing body: NASA Ames Research Center
Added to NRHP: February 24, 1994
NRHP Reference#: [1]

Hangar One is one of the world's largest freestanding structures, covering 8 acres (32,000 m2), and has long been one of the most recognizable landmarks of California's Silicon Valley. An early example of mid-century modern architecture, it was built in the 1930s as a naval airship station for the USS Macon. Following its days serving the Navy, Army and Air Force, Hangar One is today the focal point of NASA's Ames Research Center and the NASA Research Park, a collaborative and diverse education, research, technology, and business community. As the coalition of Bay Area counties predicted when it lobbied for the creation of Moffett Field in the late 1920s, the base’s research program and facilities catalyzed the development of numerous private technology and aerospace corporations, contributing to the development of Silicon Valley.


Design and construction

Designed by German air ship and structural engineer Dr. Karl Arnstein, Vice President and Director of Engineering for the Goodyear Zeppelin Corporation of Akron, Ohio, in collaboration with Wilbur Watson Associates Architects and Engineers of Cleveland, Ohio, Hangar One is constructed on a network of steel girders sheathed with galvanized steel. It rests firmly upon a reinforced pad anchored to concrete pilings. The floor covers 8 acres (32,000 m2) and can accommodate 10 football fields. The airship hangar measures 1,133 feet (345 m) long and 308 feet (94 m) wide. The building has an aerodynamic architecture. Its walls curve upward and inward, to form an elongated dome 198 feet (60 m) high. The clam-shell doors were designed to reduce turbulence when the Macon moved in and out on windy days. The "orange peel" doors, weighing 200 short tons (180 metric tons) each, are moved by their own 150 horsepower (110 kW) motors operated via an electrical control panel.

The USS Macon in Hangar One on October 15, 1933, following a transcontinental flight from Lakehurst, New Jersey.

Similar structures

Hangar One is similar to the Goodyear Airdock in Akron, Ohio which was built by the Goodyear Zeppelin Corporation in 1929. At the time it was built, it was the largest building in the world without interior supports, and provided a huge structure in which "lighter-than-air" ships (later known as airships, dirigibles, or blimps) could be constructed. The first two airships to be constructed and launched at the Airdock were USS Akron and its sister ship, USS Macon, built in 1931 and 1933, respectively. These first two airships were 785 feet (239 m) in length.

Other historic references date back to Europe. An outstanding example are the two Hangar d' Orly for dirigibles at Orly Air Base near Paris. They were designed and built in 1921–1922 by French structural and civil engineer Eugène Freyssinet, who was the major pioneer of prestressed concrete. The buildings were destroyed in World War II.[2].

Another remarkable example of a similar concrete construction are the two air plane hangars for the Italian Air Force in Orvieto, Italy, by Italian architect and structural engineer Pier Luigi Nervi, designed in 1935 and built in 1938. [3]. They were destroyed during World War II.[4].


Hangar One is listed in the Santa Clara County Heritage Resource Inventory. Hangar One is also a designated Naval Historical Monument and a pivotal resource in the U.S. Naval Air Station, Sunnyvale National Register Historic District—significant on the national level for its association with the expanding coastal defense capabilities of the U.S. Navy and airship technology during the interwar era between 1932 and 1945. In 1994, it was included to the National Register of Historic Places, as part of the US Naval Air Station Sunnyvale, California, Historic District. [5]. In 2008, Hangar One was listed as one of the 11 most endangered historic places in the U.S by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.[6] In popular culture Hangar One can be seen in various episodes of Mythbusters on The Discovery Channel and in the 2009 theatrical production of Star Trek

External links


Hangar One with opened orange peel doors, 1964
  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15.  
  2. ^ Eugène Freyssinet, Hangar D'Orly, France
  3. ^ Air Plane Hangars by Pier Luigi Nervi.
  4. ^ Architettura delle (Infra)Strutture. La forma strutturale nel progetto di Architettura. 5 aprile 2002 - R. Masiani.
  5. ^ U.S. National Register of Historic Places
  6. ^ 2008 List of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places Announced, National Trust for Historic Preservation

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Park Service.


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