Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center Planning
300 Aircraft & Spacecraft into the Udvar-Hazy Center
|Model of Udvar-Hazy Center
|The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy
Center will have two major exhibition hangars with over 33,000
square meters (255,000 square feet) of exhibit space. The top
of the aviation hangar will soar to 31 meters (103 feet). That may seem like a lot of space, but the challenge to the National
Air and Space Museum artifact layout team is to display over
300 aircraft and spacecraft at the new Udvar-Hazy
Center, while leaving room for related objects and viewing opportunities
for the visiting public.
Team at Work
©2000 Smithsonian Institution, SI #99-15137
|Working with the
layout model of the aviation hangar are: Frank Winter,
Space History Curator; Lin Ezell, Udvar-Hazy Center Program
Coordinator; Bob van der Linden and Dorothy Cochrane, Aeronautics
Curators; and William Jacobs, Exhibition Designer. Team members
are discussing how they can fit in just one more aircraft, be
it a Piper Cub or a Boeing 307.
Anyone who has cut scraps
of paper to represent scale models of furniture, then moved them
around until they fit on a floor plan of a house or office, will
appreciate the approach taken to arrange the aircraft and spacecraft
for Udvar-Hazy Center.
The first step was to gather information about
the artifacts that will be on view. Most of the historic objects
are stored at the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and
Storage Facility, Suitland, Maryland, where they are crowded into
small areas or disassembled into many pieces. Designers could not
simply use a tape measure and write down the dimensions of each
artifact. Instead, curatorial files, photographs, technical manuals,
and a variety of reference materials were used to get enough information
to make scale drawings of each of the artifacts. With these, William
"Jake" Jacobs from the Exhibits Division of the National
Air and Space Museum was able to create drawing files for 250 aircraft,
150 space artifacts, and 150 engines. Jake relied heavily on the
help of two Museum interns -- Sheleena Nti, Catholic University
in Washington, DC, and Keith DiMuccio, Rhode Island School of Design
in Providence, RI -- who played key roles in the preparation of
The drawings of the artifacts were combined
with building drawings provided by the architectural firm of Hellmuth,
Obata + Kassabaum, all entered in a PC database using AutoCAD®
(Automated Computer-Aided Design) software. Surprisingly, the 600+
drawings do not use a lot of computer memory since an aircraft line
drawing typically requires only 35 to 50 kilobytes of memory.
Scale Models Are Arranged in Three Layers to Visualize Relations
of the Aircraft on the Floor to Those Hanging from the Arches
2000 Smithsonian Institution,
can be combined with manufacturing tools to provide CAD/CAM
(Computer-Aided Design/Computer-Assisted Manufacture) to control
various machines. In this case, the aircraft and spacecraft
drawing files from AutoCAD® are used by
CAD/CAM to drive a router that cuts out scaled two-dimensional
models from 1/8-inch-thick plastic. These plastic cutouts can
then be arranged in a scale model of the Udvar-Hazy Center exhibit
areas to get a better three-dimensional view of how everything
should fit together.
fabric-covered aircraft be out of reach?
small aircraft be placed near railings and viewing
areas? How do we avoid one airplane blocking the view
of another, considering where the viewers will be
should the artifacts be grouped to help the public
understand their history and relations to one another:
military, commercial, rocketry, astronomy?
the plan and timetable for moving artifacts into place;
can each item be moved to its space without interference
from those already in place?
wings of Navy aircraft be folded?
the position in the hangar consistent with the schedule
for restoring the artifacts? Are there some artifacts
that will need to be moved later for restoration?
prominence be given to unique National Air and Space Museum artifacts?
cleaning and support equipment get to the artifacts?
Is there enough space among them?
maximum hanging weight limits been observed for the artifact
hanging points that are part of the building structure? See
the article on hanging aircraft for more details.
space must be available for simulators, exhibit stations,
docent desks, and display cases.
with Disabilities Act (ADA)
people with mobility, hearing, and visual challenges
enjoy the exhibits?
"Jake" Jacobs Deciding How to Transfer Model Layout
Smithsonian Institution, SI #99-15138
|When the team is
satisfied with the arrangement of the items in the hangars,
Jake recreates the layout with the AutoCAD®
software and captures those ideas in a computer file. So far,
there are probably 10 different layouts for each of the 3 levels.
Once in the computer, the files can be used
- Print paper copies of the floor and hanging
- Quickly test ideas for placing new artifacts.
- Prepare illustrations for briefings, pamphlets,
and other publications.
- Arrange tables for special dinners or functions
to be held in the exhibit areas.
According to Jake, the layout team's greatest
challenge is to comprehend the large scale of the Aviation Hangar.
Washington's Union Train Station is about as high, but with a smaller
floor area. The Ronald Reagan National Airport concourse is longer,
but has a lower ceiling.
The layout session in March 2000 took about
three weeks. Display cases and information kiosks were added. A
particular challenge is to allow space for high-lift equipment ("cherry
pickers") that are needed to clean artifacts, and to service
loudspeakers (2 x 2-meter (6 x 6-foot) assemblies attached to every
other arch) or smoke detectors. The lifts can be 26 meters (85 feet)
to 44 meters (145 feet) high, and outriggers must be extended for
stability. They must also reach through multiple levels of aircraft.
In the long-term, the computer models will be
available whenever there is a need to move an artifact.
When move-in day comes in early 2003, these
physical and computer models will be the key guides for the movers,
riggers, curators, collection managers, and others dedicated to
giving the world's public many exciting views of the Smithsonian's
priceless air and space collection.
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