KSC’s revamp to include new centerpiece HQ building on Central Campus

by Chris Bergin

A new Headquarters building is set to rise from the ground at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), a building which is part of the overall revamp of the Florida spaceport. While the noise of spacecraft being launched from KSC won’t be heard again until at least 2014, the sound of construction is already ringing out, as KSC prepares to launch both NASA and commercial vehicles.

KSC Transition:

Preparations for the post Space Shuttle era began even while the orbiters were completing their final role of assembling the International Space Station (ISS).

Although work at Pad 39B was in relation to the now-defunct Constellation Program (CxP), the follow on program – centered around the Space Launch System (SLS) – benefited from the head start, as the 600 feet tall Lightning Towers rose from the ground, not long before the Shuttle pad’s infrastructure was razed to the ground.

With a “clean pad” now residing at 39B – and the remaining shuttle pad mothballed at Pad 39A – KSC is in a position to not only launch NASA’s new SLS vehicle, but also commercial vehicles, either from the clean pad or via 39A – the latter likely to be transferred to “Space Florida” – the State’s aerospace economic development agency – ownership in the not too distant future.

The 21st Century spaceport effort can be seen out at 39B at this present time, as the giant water tower and launch pad infrastructure undergo renovation work.

This work also stretches back from the pads, down the crawlerway and through to the industrial area, all part of KSC’s transition to a multi-user facility.

“It is very challenging making the transition from a government program focused primarily on a single crewed spacecraft to a multi-user program,” noted Trey Carlson, Master Planner for KSC in an interview with NASA.gov this week – with additional information and graphics acquired by L2 (link). “At the same time, we must be careful not to preclude any future uses with decisions that are being made today.”

Moving past the renovation work taking place on the launch infrastructure, this week saw the announcement of the plan to build a new headquarters building, to be carried out in two major phases, to become the cornerstone for the Central Campus area.

This new building will become an iconic site, backdropped by the massive Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), for workers and visitors arriving at the spaceport by the middle of this decade.

The work on the Central Campus will enable demolition of approximately 900,000 square feet of physical plant in the Industrial Area while rebuilding only about 450,000 square feet.

Between the 50 percent reduction in foot print and the considerably lower costs associated with the operation and maintenance of the new energy efficient facilities, KSC will save in the order of $400 million over the next 40 years.

“We’re going to see a dramatic return on investment with new facilities,” Mr Carlson added. “With a constrained budget forecast we owe it to ourselves to look at options of how to operate the Center in a more sustainable manner.”

Located between the current HQ building and the Operations & Checkout (O&C) building on D Avenue, Central Campus Phase 1 will be a 200,000 square foot facility that consolidates shared services, data centers, and office space in the Industrial Area.

Central Campus Phase 2 is a 150,000 square foot facility that will be integrated to the east side of Phase 1 and provides additional office space. When Phase 2 begins, the current HQ Building will be demolished.

The Central Campus project was originally planned for implementation in four phases over eight years starting in FY2012. The plan included replacement and consolidation of ten buildings in the Industrial Area and a complete gut-and-renovate of the O&C South Wing, a process which has already taken place on the North Wing in preparation for the future KSC programs.

This plan was modified based on restrictions in the subsequent NASA budgets, with planners then involved in discussions with Florida’s Department of Transportation, exploring partnering arrangements for upkeep and perhaps the eventual improvements of some of Kennedy’s roads, particularly the four bridges currently under the center’s care, with the aim to free up NASA’s resources for other infrastructure upgrades at the center.

The building – even after just Phase 1 – is impressive, based around a glass and concrete building envelope, rising seven stories – 110 feet – tall. It sports a curved airfoil shape and is purpose-built to allow the Phase 2 building to be built on the opposite side of the lobby structure.

With floors 3 through 6 mainly used for office space, 22,000 square feet will be available for office accommodation on each floor of the building. The seventh floor will host the Center Director offices.

The phase 1 building is scheduled to begin construction in September, 2013, which would allow for a completion date of March, 2015.

(Images via L2 and NASA).

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