Winning design chosen in Intrepid competition

Team Alphabet Soup presents their design for a

Team Alphabet Soup presents their design for a permanent, sustainable repair hangar for Intrepid Museum. (Dec. 7, 2010) (Credit: Charles Eckert)

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FOR five years, crews restoring historic planes at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in Manhattan have been forced to work in a drafty nylon tent on the deck on the aircraft carrier. Tuesday, plans to replace that temporary hangar with a permanent space catapulted forward with the help of students from the New York Institute of Technology.

The museum and college collaborated on a three-month student design contest, and Tuesday the six finalist teams presented their designs for energy-sustainable structures of steel and glass 60 by 45 feet, and 25 feet tall. They used slide shows and detailed models to show a panel of nine judges from the two institutions projects they hoped would be the basis for the structure the Intrepid hopes to have in place within three years atop the 900-foot-long carrier.

The winning entry, which collected a $3,000 prize, was the work of a team called Alphabet Soup. Its 11 students, representing every major offered at the Old Westbury campus, came up with a design that included a roof consisting of five tiered sections resembling aircraft wings.

"We'd like to work with you in January," executive director Susan Marenoff told the students. The students will join museum staff and consultants to flesh out the design into actual construction plans for a project that will cost less than $1 million, Marenoff said.

"Every design was fabulous," she said, adding the competition, which concluded on Pearl Harbor Day, perfectly fit the museum's education mission. "It's been truly inspirational for us."

Team spokesman Luke Ferland said, "We worked extremely hard on this project," putting in hundreds of hours outside of their classes.

"We didn't sleep much," added the education major from Great River, who said he was inspired by family who used to work at Grumman building the kind of planes that flew off the Intrepid. "When it goes up on the deck, I'm going to feel so happy."

Further development on the design will become part of the classwork for all of the students from the 12 teams that entered.

Ferland told the judges that the five sections of the roof represent the five Japanese kamikaze attacks the Intrepid survived during World War II. Like all of the other designs, it featured a classroom that could be used for other events as well.

Zach Sanzo, a team member from Rockland County, said the design would allow for all-natural lighting in the daytime. Ferland noted that solar panels and a wind generator would provide 30 percent more power than the building would use.

Eric Boehm, the museum's aviation curator, said the existing white plastic tent "works well when the weather's nice, but in the winter it's a brutal place to be." He said he was confident the museum and college will raise money for construction.

Boehm said a big selling point for the winning entry was that it provided the maximum space for restoration. The judges also believed the architecture was innovative without calling too much attention to itself.

"The wing structure was something I really liked," he said.

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