When Space Center Houston asked us to install the flooring on its most important project to date—Independence Plaza—we were just honored to be a part of history. But installing flooring throughout the original NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft—one of two 747s that carried space shuttles Atlantis, Challenger, Columbia, Discovery, Enterprise and Endeavor—presented unique challenges beyond the imposing size and challenging shape of a large, retrofitted jetliner.
Tasked with fixing the subfloor and then installing flooring in a large and unique space, we set about to solve each challenge with products that would work together to create an integrated, comfortable, durable and beautiful space to seamlessly usher visitors through this most iconic of Houston landmarks.
Visitors to Independence Plaza are immediately struck by the sheer size and majesty of an exhibit that honors the remarkable ingenuity and achievement of the Space Shuttle Program and the innovators who conceived of the plan to ferry shuttles on the back of a 747. But once inside the shuttle carrier, our highly successful flooring installation provides a comfortable, durable and free-flowing look and feel that beckons visitors and encourages them to take in all the majesty of the Space Shuttle Program.
Unique Installation Challenge Strategy
The first challenge was leveling the subfloor in a space that could not be floated because of a chair rail that figured prominently into the museum display—and then finding a carpet tile large enough to accommodate the exhibit’s chair mounts.
We chose a Milliken carpet tile for its size (1 meter) and felt cushion back, a requirement so the tile joints did not interfere with the floor’s chair mounts, eventually laying down 540 yards in a cool blue shade to complement the exhibit’s design palette. We then found a coordinating Tandus solid broadloom, installing 75 yards up the winding stairs to the flight deck. And, the entire project required heavy security and secrecy leading up to the public unveiling of the huge exhibit in late January.
Our expert flooring team produced a space that not only overcame the technical installation challenges but also fulfilled the client’s aesthetic goals. Space Center Houston’s showcase exhibit is a space for learning and lingering to ponder the innovation and creative thinking that went into the development of the shuttle and shuttle carrier aircraft. That spirit of innovation is alive and well at Space Center Houston’s Independence Plaza—and at our firm as well!