Nearly 200 feet tall and the length of three football fields, Hangar One at Moffett Field is truly a gigantic structure. And true to its size, a plan to restore it faces some big challenges.
At a public meeting last week, representatives gave a walk-through of their plans to purge a variety of toxic contaminants from the hangar and eventually rehabilitate the structure for future use.
This first stage of the proposed cleanup plan is estimated to take at least three years and cost more than $157 million, which is expected to be paid entirely by Google's subsidiary Planetary Ventures. The price is daunting, but it's likely accurate given the huge scale of the cleanup effort, which would require $54 million just for temporary scaffolding, said John-Michael Phelps, Planetary Ventures project manager.
"As everything else is in the Bay Area, it's extremely expensive to do anything," he said. "Those are the most accurate numbers we had to go with. They're not padded."
The restoration project could be record-breaking in other ways. Speakers at the meeting opined that restoring Hangar One may be the largest cleanup effort of its kind ever attempted. The plan calls for a tight hazmat containment around the hangar's 1.8 million square feet of surface area. This area would be fully enclosed in a plastic covering to create a negative pressure environment to prevent any toxic compounds from escaping. Workers will begin blasting all of the hangar's surface with a copper slag in an effort to remove toxic lead and PCBs from its framework, possibly going at certain areas with chemical stripping solvents or hand tools.
Planners for the project say some aspects of the restoration are still being figured out. They expect to phase the project to work on specific areas of the hangar in sections, but they haven't decided yet how to divide up the job. An architecture firm is still determining the right "skin" paneling to cover the vast exterior of the hangar. Those architects are reportedly working with the California Historic Preservation Office to make sure any new hangar covering complies with preservation guidelines.
One way or another, Hangar One will be fully rehabilitated by 2025, the team promised. A crowd of Moffett Field's history fans was absolutely thrilled to hear that news.
"I'm just delighted that we're not taking this down," said Cupertino resident Tom Trankle. "For me, this would be like tearing down the Golden Gate Bridge."