Google offers US$33m to restore Hangar One landmark

12 Dec 2011

The USS Macon within Hangar One in the 1930s. (Source: NASA Ames Research Centre)

Three of Google’s top executives wish to pay US$33m to restore a historic Californian structure, Hangar One. They want to use up to two-thirds of the floor space to hold eight private jets.

Mercury News reports that Google CEO Larry Page, co-founder Sergey Brin and executive chairman Eric Schmidt made the proposal through their H211 airplane operations company to NASA, owner of the structure.

The US$33m offer would cover the entire cost of refurbishing the building. While Google would get to use two-thirds of the floor space for their private planes, NASA would remain as the hangar’s owner and could lease out the floor space that was being unused by Google. The building would also not contain Google branding.

NASA has not responded to the offer yet, saying the proposal has not yet been completely vetted and all options are being considered as they prepare their funding proposal for the fiscal year of 2013 budget.

Hangar One was built in the 1930s as a naval airship station. It’s one of the world’s largest free-standing structures – it is 345.3 metres long, 61 metres high and covers 8 acres.

The Navy left the base to NASA in 1994. There were plans to convert it into a space and science centre, but in 2003 it was discovered that Hangar One was leaking toxic chemicals. The source of this was the lead paint and toxic materials used to coat the hangar.

In 2008, the Navy decided to strip the hangar’s coating and leave it as a skeleton. It argued that restoring the structure would cost an extra US$15m, which it believes is NASA’s responsibility. Work began on stripping the building in April 2011.

However, the US House of Representatives has removed US$32m from NASA’s budget in the last year that was set aside to replace the siding.