It’s not an airport, it’s a spaceport–a commercial station for the burgeoning business of space travel. As you can see from the renderings, this structure is the New Mexico Spaceport Authority Building, aka Spaceport America, which was designed by Foster + Partners (and SMCP Architects). As the first private spaceport in America, Spaceport America will be built to LEED Platinum standards. Perhaps more importantly, the building should have minimal impact on the surrounding environment: "the low-lying form is dug into the landscape to exploit the thermal mass, which buffers the building from the extremes of the New Mexico climate as well as catching the westerly winds for ventilation. Natural light enters via skylights, with a glazed façade reserved for the terminal building, establishing a platform for the coveted views onto the runway." The project is expected to cost about $31 million and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic will be the main tenant.
There’s an interesting discussion about the building due to some thoughts by Lloyd Alter at Treehugger. Here’s a short, incisive excerpt: "It is designed to be LEED Platinum. To be ‘both sustainable and sensitive to its surroundings.’ What an oxymoronic gesture. Next thing you know we will have LEED certified coal fired power plants." He certainly brings an important perspective to the announcement. After all, there are green buildings and there are people/businesses that occupy those buildings. Occupying a green building doesn’t automatically make a person/business ‘green,’ but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Right?