Preserving the historic past while showcasing outer space technology and education
The historic Wegs building is a beautiful example of late 19th century American vernacular commercial architecture using two-part commercial block organization. It's first floor stair side entrance organizes the facade into an asymmetrical configuration on the first floor and a symmetrical configuration on the second floor. The facade uses decorative pressed metal detailing in its moldings, pilasters, cornices as well as brackets at the eaves. These elements act as a decorative skin while allowing the upper eave to project forward and provide some overhead coverage to the existing modest 2nd floor balcony. The building originally had a roof and a second floor but due to deterioration and water damage, they were removed. The property now exists simply as a historic facade wall that creates a barrier between the street and an open air space behind, and perhaps reminding us of its potentiality as an open air public plaza.
The primary objective of this project is to preserve and strengthen the historic facade while tackling the difficult challenge of adapting a new design and a business concept to a building that has no roof and no weatherproofing. A secondary objective was to replace the existing balcony with something more structurally sound, ample in size, and safe to occupy without worry of compromising the existing "freestanding" front facade, ensuring its rigidity and strength.
The solution was to create an adaptive reuse architectural project conceived as a highly interactive, educational, and recreational set of multi-level open air spaces. Visitors of all ages are able to connect with the natural environment, the sky, and outer space. The project delivers a highly unique experience where the natural and the man made world collide to create spaces that simultaneously exist as both interior and exterior space. Through spatial arrangements that emphasize vertical movement, the project encourages the user to travel and look upwards toward the building from the outside and to sky from the inside. Various "viewing platforms" have been designed to block horizontal ambient light and allow for an immersive view of the day or night sky, the stars, the moon, and the solar system. Three observatories at 8 feet in diameter have been designed and placed up on a platform allowing unobstructed observation using high powered telescopes and virtual reality technology.
The Space Station will brand and market itself as both an educational facility for all ages and a hip nightlife destination that broadcasts live video of special space related video content as well as music festivals. The NASA Cube Satellite program will be an integral part of the user experience. An actual Cube Satellite will be launched from Virginia on one of NASA's rockets and will be deployed in space. The Cube Satellite will communicate with equipment stored here at this facility, which will track its GPS location, map its trajectory, capture photos and video of the earth while in orbit, and compile other data points of interest. Partnerships with local astronomy organizations and other educational groups will be made in an effort to create a new type of educational destination category, not simply a standard museum. At night, the facility will be open to the public for recreational gatherings, adult beverages, live music, and live stream video simulcasts of space launches and content as well as other events happening throughout the world. Partnership with NASA, Space X, Logboat Brewing Company, the University of Missouri Physics Department, and other regional partnerships will be made and maintained to enhance user experience. This new museum-like typology will be a true regional destination that combines the educational with the recreational, the interior with the exterior, the natural with the man-made, and the historic architecture of the past with the latest in modern technology.