RS&H studied and designed renovations to the Kennedy Space Center Launch Control Center Firing Rooms, where launch operations are supervised and controlled. RS&H first conducted a study to identify alternatives for replacing the rooms’ 40-year-old windows and sun louvers. Goals included minimizing glare and reducing heat load, maintaining sun control, preserving aesthetics and views, and ensuring zero chance of water infiltration during construction. Maintaining operations during construction was also essential, as several shuttle launches took place during the renovation.
The final design included tinted, laminate-insulated, and low-e glazing in a skylight frame system installed five feet out from the existing windows. This concept allowed for installation of the new system from the exterior, limiting interruption to interior operations while also allowing the new system to be tested and accepted prior to removal of the old windows. Interior motorized roll-shades were also installed to replace the sun louvers.
During construction, NASA continued to conduct launch processing and launched several shuttles, including the Ares 1X. Not once did construction interfere with operations nor was there ever water intrusion, leading NASA Test Director Kyle Dixon to equate the project to “… replace[ing] the windshield of my car, while I’m driving it down the road,” a testament to the team’s success in minimizing interruption to launch operations. The project was also completed four months ahead of schedule.
Our prior experience designing the Apollo-era and Space Shuttle mobile launch infrastructure informed the framework for stakeholder engagement to ensure accommodation of life safety, human factors, and coastal, launch, wind, and hazardous environments for the successful design of modifications to all structures and facilities.
As a valued partner with NASA since the 1960s, RS&H started the project with a contract for HVAC repairs, which blossomed into laboratory repairs, laboratory design, and a master plan that would consolidate the ARES division from six buildings down to two.