Lord Norman : Boldly Going…


::Ed. Note: our apologies to LORD Foster of Thames Bank, as he is no longer a ‘Sir’ – thanks to ‘Mr. L’ for the comment making the correction::

… where no architect has gone before. As many of you may have heard, Lord Norman + Partners were chosen to design the first commercial ‘spaceport’ – the New Mexico Spaceport Authority Building [yes, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority really exists], run by the appropriately named Virgin Galactic. Now the design has been released [as of last week, I believe], revealing an interesting futuristic/alien looking spaceport that I think looks a lot like the cross between some extra-terrestrial mothership and a crop circle.

The Foster + Partners and URS team has won an international competition to build the first private spaceport in the world – The New Mexico Spaceport Authority Building. The sinuous shape of the building in the landscape and its interior spaces seek to capture the drama and mystery of space flight itself, articulating the thrill of space travel for the first space tourists. Making a minimal impact on the environment, the scheme will be the first facility of its kind and a model for the future [via Foster + Partners].


The building has been designed to be low lying and blend into the surrounding landscape – even appearing as barely more than another hill on the horizon from New Mexico’s historic El Camino Real trail. Visitors will enter the spaceport from this side, through a deep passage cut into the landscape, emphasizing the feeling that the port has been carved from the earth. Its actually an interesting design concept – grounding a building so solidly when its purpose is to house the machines that will take people the furthest they can go from the planet.


This entry through a carved-out landscape features retaining walls with both the local history and the history of [Earth’s] space travel/exploration. I’m not sure if the rendering above is showing these images as reflecting natural light, or as carved out and back-lit [which would be incredible], but their alien hieroglyph quality looks like it will make for an exciting entry experience when combined with the feeling of the passage cutting into the ground plane.


As for the building’s ‘green’ potential [the ‘minimal impact on the environment’ mentioned above] – My Ninjas, Please! Making a green spaceport is like making a sustainable Hummer plant. Sure, the building saves electricity and uses natural heating + ventilation – but the products of the building are some of the most wasteful in existence. Here’s an idea of how much fuel NASA uses to launch one of it’s shuttles:

Space shuttle fuel consumed in a launch: 3.5 million pounds
Gasoline consumed in one day in the US – 2,500 million pounds
In other words, one space shuttle launch is equivalent to about two minutes
of gasoline consumption in the United States [from the MadSci Network]

Now, you can argue that NASA has that right – studying both Earth and our surroundings from space, sense of exploration, colonization of Mars, eventual conquest of those chumps over at Alpha Centauri, etc. – but who thinks its okay to waste all that fuel on someone’s desire to be weightless and catch some great views? I’d be willing to bet that Virgin Galactic’s planes/shuttles will use less fuel than NASA’s [if thats possible] – but that doesn’t make that fuel use acceptable.


My hating on the building being ‘green’ aside, this looks like it could be a pretty siiick project. I’ve always been straight geeked off Sci-Fi, especially when it becomes reality, and I’m glad to see that the right designer seems to have been chosen for a building that does potentially represent a huge leap into the future for human travel and exploration.


Lastly – Virgin is definitely going to need some cooler looking space planes tho, if its going to be building a space port looking all futuristic and alien like this.

::all images from Foster+Partners’ homepage::

Posted: September 10th, 2007
at 11:41am by orangemenace

Categories: architecture,my ninja, please,green arch,featured ninjas

Comments: 6 comments


6 Responses to 'Lord Norman : Boldly Going…'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Lord Norman : Boldly Going…'.

  1. […] Read the rest at Architecture.mnp […]


  2. […] Read the rest at Architecture.mnp […]


  3. Actually, its Lord Foster now.. Lord Foster of Thames Bank.


    11 Sep 07 at 1:41 pm


  4. […] Foster and Partners Zaha Hadid David Chipperfield Jean Nouvel Arata Isozaki Ron Arad John Pawson […]


  5. […] Well, Lord Foster is a ninja in true form – always on his hustle. What’s new over at Foster+Partners, other than spaceports and the design of green cities in the desert you ask? How about a 150,000 square meter mixed-use development for Beach Road in Singapore – occupying an entire city block between the Marina Center and the Civic District. You know – in his firm’s free time. […]


  6. Dear sir,

    The layout of the area that you’ve built for your space crafts is similar to the design of an Idea that I’ve had for over a decade now. I wonder if I could ask you a few questions about my Idea that i’d like to design and build. My other email is yaga777@yahoo.com I check it daily.

    I have so many questions that you might be able to answer for me, I hope you can.

    Benjamin J Haigh

    Benjamin Haigh

    29 Apr 08 at 4:39 pm



Leave a Reply