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Hangar One revamp in Mountain View led by Google gets into full swing

MOUNTAIN VIEW — The restoration of Hangar One, a Silicon Valley icon that is a landmark reminder of a bygone era of giant dirigibles, is slated to get into high gear under a project being led by Google’s Planetary Ventures unit.

Hangar One, located on the grounds of the NASA Ames Research Center and Moffett Federal Airfield in Mountain View, will be restored to the point where it can be used again, a rebirth that could include space, aviation and tech research.

The full-fledged work of restoral, on the heels of years of toxic materials cleanup and environmental remediation, was scheduled to begin as soon as Thursday, according to information released by Rep. Anna Eshoo, a Democrat whose district encompasses parts of Santa Clara County and San Mateo County, including Mountain View.

“I’m thrilled that restoration of Hangar One will finally begin on May 5,” Rep. Eshoo said in comments emailed to this news organization. “Our community has worked for years to save this historic landmark that defines the landscape of the South Bay region and Silicon Valley.”

In 2015, Google entered a $1.6 billion, 60-year lease with NASA to formally take over the 1,000-acre site Moffett Field site with plans to repurpose its three airship hangars as laboratories for developing robots, rovers, drones, internet-carrying balloons and other cutting-edge technology, the company stated at the time. The search giant’s Planetary Ventures would take on the primary responsibility for the vast effort.

The removal of the toxic materials took years to complete under work supervised by the U.S. Navy. Now, the next stage of the work will be the wide-ranging restoration effort, also likely to be a years-long endeavor.

“The Hangar was originally built during the Great Depression and provided hundreds of much-needed jobs,” Rep. Eshoo said. “It has been adjacent to NASA Ames from the start and was the training grounds and aircraft hangar during World War II.”

The U.S. Navy completed Hangar One in 1933 to serve as home to the dirigible U.S.S. Macon.

By 1950, Moffet Field had become the largest naval air transport base on the West Coast.

In the 1980s the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency placed the site on the National Priority List for sites of known releases of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants. It was closed as an active military base in 1991 and transferred to NASA.

Following the discovery in 2003 that toxins were leaching from panels covering the hangar, the future of the depression-era structure remained in limbo for nearly a decade before any action was taken.

Although NASA took over the site in 1994, the federal government deemed the Navy responsible for cleaning it up. In 2011, the Navy spent four months removing the structure’s outside panels, leaving NASA Ames responsible for reskinning the structure.

The ground floor totals eight acres is 200 feet high and is large enough to accommodate several football fields.

“This American icon is also one of the largest freestanding structures in the country,” Rep. Eshoo said.

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