Tim Viole owns a construction company in Tarzana, Calif., that has built a variety of aviation-related structures over the years. They range from a museum for vintage World War II aircraft to the image-setting hangars for plush executive jets. None of these projects rivaled the immediate interest triggered among Butler Manufacturing engineers and plant workers in Visalia when the order from T. Viole’ Construction Company arrived earlier this year to supply the metal building to temporarily hold the Space Shuttle Endeavour in Los Angeles. The orbiter will become the centerpiece at the permanent Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion at the California Science Center.
Workers started erecting the structure the week of June 10th on a site next to the Science Center and near the Los Angeles Coliseum. The building’s primary framing was set on Saturday, June 16th, with some lifts weighing 38,000 pounds. The process used a 90-ton mobile crane with 125-ft. of boom, two smaller cranes and personnel lifts. It should take approximately five weeks to fully enclose the structure.
The 120’ x 150’ x 68.4’ Butler metal building, manufactured from 112 ½ tons of steel at the Visalia plant, will serve as the interim display facility for the Space Shuttle Endeavour. The orbiter is destined for permanent display at the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, anticipated to open within the next five years at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.
It seems appropriate that, for the interim, the Endeavour, much of which was manufactured in Southern California, will occupy a building in Los Angeles designed, manufactured and built by Southern Californians.
The Endeavour was one of three flown shuttles retired to exhibition venues announced last April (2011) as the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) concluded the 30-year space shuttle program. In addition to the Endeavour in Los Angeles, the remaining flown shuttles are at the Smithsonian Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Va.; and The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.
The Endeavour flew 25 missions—123 million miles, 299 days in space and 4671 orbits– from May 7, 1992 to June 1, 2011.
“It is a priceless artifact of the American Space Program,” Viole said.
The Butler Building was priced at a significant savings compared to a fabric alternative, Viole disclosed, and earned the Visalia plant the fabrication order. In early May, seven truckloads of structural steel framing, metal roof and metal wall panel systems arrived at the site.
The 122’ long Endeavour, will arrive later this year at Los Angeles International Airport riding piggyback atop a modified Boeing 747, known as the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA). From there, it will sit until making the carefully planned 12 mile trip down city streets. Two corporations, Parsons and Cordoba, worked with the California Science Center to plan the route that will accommodate the 78’ wing span. A removable end wall will allow access to set and remove the shuttle, Viole said. Plans are for the Endeavour to arrive at the facility this fall and, within weeks of its arrival; guests can visit and view this legacy of America’s space exploration at the Science Center.
Butler products manufactured in Visalia included Widespan structural framing and Butlerib metal roof and wall panel systems with a white paint finish.
Morley Construction is serving as the general contractor with ARUP as the project engineers and Zimmer Gunsul Frasca (ZGF) as the architects. – Photos and text provided by Butler Manufacturing.