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Can Hangar One hang on?

Battle to save Silicon Valley icon

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The battle to save one of Silicon Valley's true architectural icons has reached a critical stage. Citizens will meet this week at NASA Ames, hoping to convince the Navy not to destroy Hangar One.

Anyone driving along the US-101 freeway in Silicon Valley has seen the massive Hangar One building near the Moffett Field exit in Mountain View. Those of you who haven't been in the neighborhood can see Hangar One at the top left of this web site.

The building went up during the early 1930s to house the Navy's massive USS Macon airship. Hangar One hasn't been used for quite some time after NASA Ames discovered it was packed full of toxic materials.

The great debate surrounding Hangar One is whether we should pay to destroy it or pay a bit more to clean it up and use it for something else. The Navy claims it will take $12m to demolish the 1,100 feet long and 310 feet wide structure. It would likely cost around $24m to clean up the building.

A "last chance" meeting to save Hangar One will be held on Tuesday with advocates trying to persuade government officials to hold off on tearing down the building.

As we wrote in March, a private group hopes to turn Hangar One into a world-class space museum. This would more than pay for the Hangar One preservation costs. In addition, it would provide NASA Ames with a "true" museum as opposed to the small tent that sites outside of the facility today.

Budget cuts have forced NASA Ames to cancel public tours of its facilities, which means that taxpayers no longer have access to one of the more fantastic sites in Silicon Valley. Building a real museum on the NASA Ames turf seems like a grand way to fix that problem.

In addition, Silicon Valley has so few historical structures to celebrate that it seems like a real waste to crush Hangar One. The original Shockley Lab, for example, is a fruit stand, and the original Fairchild site sits in a rundown building next to a gas station. Why not give a nod to all this region has done in the way of aeronautical research and save Hangar One?

Let's preserve a bit of history. ®

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