In honor of NASA’s 60th anniversary, the Mexico City and New York–based firm TEN Arquitectos has designed an anchor for the space agency’s John H. Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. The X-shaped Research Support Building (RSB), formed from two bisecting volumes, will create a central hub for the collection of World War II–era buildings that currently make up the Glenn Research Center.

The research center, founded in 1940 as an aircraft research laboratory and integrated into NASA after the agency’s founding in 1958, is named after the Ohioan astronaut of the same name. The “behind the scenes” facility, one of 10 at NASA, is responsible for much of the agency’s fundamental, technological, and rocket science research.

The new 60,000-square-foot RSB broke ground on September 26, and once the building is complete, will create a nexus for the now-scattered campus where researchers can collaborate, relax, and engage in interdisciplinary dialogue. The building’s cross-shaped massing speaks to that purpose, and by cantilevering the upper floors and cladding them in glass, TEN Arquitectos has afforded visitors 270-degree views of the campus.

An aerial rendering of the entire John H. Glenn Research Center, complete with the new building and Wright Commons.

An aerial rendering of the entire John H. Glenn Research Center, complete with the new building and Wright Commons. (Courtesy TEN Arquitectos)

The RSB’s materiality will reflect the rest of the campus’s industrial feel. TEN Arquitectos has chosen to wrap the ground-level volume—which will hold meeting rooms, private offices, and a store—in corrugated metal accented with punch windows, and the second-story’s structural steel trusses have been left visible. Two double-height, glass-walled atriums will divide the first floor’s open plan and additional offices and conference rooms will live in the floating second story, as will restaurants on either end of the volume.

The cantilevering second floor will align with the campus’s central artery, Taylor Road, to create a large covered plaza underneath. The campus will also gain 6,000 square feet of new landscaping in the form of the newly-christened Wright Commons.

Construction of both projects is expected to wrap up sometime in 2020.

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