Under a contract the Navy has awarded to demolish the hangar's toxic siding and interior structures, owner NASA Ames Research Center has until mid-February to exercise an option to save the windows, according an e-mail from Scott Anderson, the Navy's Base Re-alignment and Closure manager for Moffett Field, responding to questions from preservationists.
The 200-foot tall icon was supposed to be restored with federal funding that was lost in December's political storm in Washington, D.C. Now preservationists say they don't have the resources to process small donations from the community, and are preparing to ask several wealthy individuals who may be inclined to donate the $1.2 million.
"You don't want to take money from lots of people that you might have to give back," said Lenny Siegel, director of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight and Save Hangar One Committee member. "Dealing with one person is a lot easier than 5,000 people."
Preservationists want interested donors to go through the Air and Space West Foundation, which wants to build a Smithsonian-chartered museum in Hangar One upon its eventual restoration. Donors should contact Siegel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NASA Ames has indicated that large donations can also be made directly to the NASA, Siegel said. In an e-mail, Anderson said that fundraising efforts may have until the end of February.
The upper two rows of Hangar One's windows are said to be an important part of the historic structure. The thick wavy pieces with inlaid chicken wire were built to withstand an explosion of a 1930s hydrogen airship and would cost $80 a square foot to reproduce, according to estimates given to NASA Ames, the Navy response says.
Addressing concerns that sending those windows to a landfill would not necessarily save money, the Navy says "The option to decontaminate and salvage the windows is much more labor intensive than straight disposal. There are 4,638 window panes that would need to be carefully removed to prevent breakage, scraped of putty, decontaminated to release criteria, catalogued and archived, and packaged."
NASA Ames wants to restore and reuse Hangar One, but has "indicated that any funding to salvage the corrugated windows would need to be provided by the public," the Navy states. "To exercise the current contract option, NASA must provide a funding commitment by the middle of this month. Any new option would require the same."
According to options in the Navy's response, Ames could take the windows and store them without decontaminating them for only $575,000. While it means taking on the liability of the toxics, that's a significant savings over the $1.2 million option previously suggested to completely clean the windows of the toxic putty before storage. There is also a third option, which involves scraping off most, but not all, of the putty, for $862,000.
The unfunded restoration of Hangar One is likely to be vital in the near future as Hangar One would most likely be used as a major exhibit hall if the 2020 World Expo comes to Moffett Field, along with 25 million visitors, according to a report released yesterday by the Bay Area Council.
NASA Ames did not respond to a request for comment by press time.