NOAA Satellite Operations Facility
In light of NOAA’s mission to monitor and safeguard the earth, the architects reexamined the traditional relationship between building and landscape – figure and ground.
A reflection of the Satellite Operations Facility’s environmental mandate, the design scheme prioritizes open space, reduces the presence of built form, and integrates architecture with landscape.
|Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.|
|/Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder (1956)|
A field of antennae – the “eyes and ears” of the operation – crowns the three-story bar building, pitching and sweeping to receive information (visible data, radiance, sea surface, snow and ice cover, and moisture content of the atmosphere) from the sixteen satellites it monitors.
The iconic antennae comprise the dominant visual register of the project. The departments that operate as “the brain” of the operation; mission control, launch control, and computer processing are housed in the slender bar.
Beneath the bar, lies the “body,” a disc-shaped building that slips into the thickened landscape of lifted ground. This partially submerged, double-high space accommodates offices and support services.
Long swaths of interior walls are wrapped in imagery of the earth taken by NOAA’s satellites while the convex ceiling plane simulates the planet’s curvature as seen from space.
Slots in the traversable, undulating green roofscape admit natural light and create niches for large courtyards. A glass lobby, with a security control point, mediates between the two main architectural components of body and brain.