September 19, 2014

Medina
Partly cloudy
59°F

NASA Glenn launches $20.5M center

A view from inside the gem of the new Mission Integration Center at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland overlooks Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. The building is the first new building built at the center in 50 years. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

A view from inside the gem of the new Mission Integration Center at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland overlooks Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. The building is the first new office building built at the center in 50 years. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

By Steve Fogarty and Loren Genson
The Gazette

CLEVELAND — The last time a new office building went up at the NASA Glenn Research Center, John F. Kennedy was president and the Beatles had yet to trigger the 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 agencywide change in how we will do business at NASA,” Free said.

Begun in September 2010, the recently finished center will house some 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.

The center employs 194 Medina County residents — about 12 percent of the civil service employees, according to NASA Glenn Public Affairs Officer Frank Jennings Jr. Of Medina County residents working there, 23 are scientists and engineers and 31 are technicians.

That number only includes civil servants and doesn’t take into account 1,511 contractors, some of whom also may live in Medina County.

Noting the detail and creative thought that went into the building’s design, Free said the MIC, as it is more commonly termed, marks the first major step in the center’s long-term master plan to create a centralized campus of sorts by gradually updating or replacing buildings that have stood since World War II.

Officials hold a ribbon cutting at the new mission integration building.

Officials hold a ribbon cutting at the new mission integration building.

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 less water, and did make 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 also 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 sfogarty@chroniclet.com and Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.