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LBYD Civil and Structural Engineers

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2010 Engineering Excellence Award

U.S. Space and Rocket Center,
Davidson Center for Space Exploration
Huntsville, Alabama

It was the desire of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center to have a facility that not only preserved one of the only three remaining Saturn V Rockets, but also enhanced the museum experience of the 500,000 people that visit the museum annually.  The most complex part of this project was designing the facility to allow this 36-story, Smithsonian artifact, known to the world as the Saturn V Rocket, to be safely suspended ten feet in the air.  Not only did the design call for the rocket to be suspended in the air, but was to be suspended in such a manner that it could be viewed by visitors at the Davidson Center and by thousands of people traveling daily on Interstate 565.  The rocket was transported into the new facility in six sections requiring close coordination between the architect, contractor and all consultants involved in this project.  Once the rocket was inside its new unfinished home, the rocket was re-assembled, suspended from the structure above while at the same time the construction of the building was completed.  The Davidson Center, with the Saturn V Rocket suspended ten feet in the air and surrounded by space artifacts, has not only become a venue for public and private events but is hands-on learning “classroom” for students of all ages from around the world.  As the Official Visitor Center  for the Marshall Space Flight Center, the Davidson Center is committed to educating the public and students abou the work being done at the Marshall Space Flight Center.