Independence Plaza Opens at Space Center Houston
Visitors to Space Center Houston can explore one of America's greatest engineering marvels with the January 23 opening of Independence Plaza, a $15 million exhibit complex designed by architecture and engineering firm PGAL. The attraction's four-level structure provides visitors with unprecedented access to a high-fidelity replica of the Space Shuttle Independence mounted on top of the historic original NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft.
As the world's only exhibit of its kind, visitors have the opportunity to enter both aircraft and learn about the Space Shuttle Program as well as the future of space exploration through interactive exhibits and artifacts.
PGAL designed and engineered the 5,500-square-foot steel tower and developed the site, concrete plaza and pedestal structures to support and facilitate efficient maintenance of the aircraft.
Inside the structure are two elevators and a stairway to provide efficient access to all levels of the aircraft, including the flight deck and mid deck of the shuttle as well as the 747 shuttle carrier aircraft. Open-air vestibules allow visitors to assemble as they wait to board each aircraft.
The building's 6.5-foot-wide stairway is integrated into the building's overall structure, providing a unique experience for visitors.
Independence Plaza is the largest project undertaken by the Manned Space Flight Education Foundation since the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization opened Space Center Houston in 1992. PGAL previously provided master planning and full architecture and engineering services for the original 200,000+-square-foot visitor center.