National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

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Demolition of PSL No. 1 and 2 (1980 – 2009)
Crane demolishing PSL structure
PSL Demolition

Use of PSL No. 1 and 2 ceased in 1979 after the test of a Pratt & Whitney TF-34 turbofan in Chamber No. 1. PSL No. 1 and 2 had played a key role in the continual development of propulsion systems, but after 27 years of testing the engines had outgrown the facility. While PSL No. 3 and 4 kept a rigorous test schedule, the original chambers sat idle for 25 years. In 2004, NASA Glenn began efforts to remove the structure from its campus. Demolition of the original PSL facility began in late 2008 and was completed in the summer of 2009.

Shutdown and Idle Years
View of rusting PSL exterior
PSL Exterior in 2008

NASA Lewis’s budget was drastically cut in the post-Apollo years. After large Reduction In Force actions in 1973 and 1974, the Center’s budgets and staffing levels continued to decline throughout the decade. Lewis could not keep all four PSL chambers and all of the other engine test rigs operating. By shutting down PSL No. 1 and 2, twenty technicians would be freed up to help keep the other test rigs operating.

The second floor of the PSL Shop and Access Building soon became an office space for engineering and maintenance staff. Temporary offices were wedged in between and perpendicular to the two altitude chambers. The countless pipes, access platforms, and other equipment on the outside began suffering from lack of maintenance. The Equipment Building and PSL No. 3 and 4 continued to operate and were upgraded over the years.

Documents:
     Mothballing of PSL 1-2 (1979) (PDF, 240KB)
     Why Phase Out PSL (1978) (PDF, 220KB)

Interior in 2005
Interior in 2005
Rusting Exterior
Rusting Exterior
Empty Hallway
Empty Hallway
Demolition Decision
Dilapidated conditions in PSL structure
Dilapidated Structure

NASA Glenn began reexamining its facilities and infrastructure in 2003. NASA Headquarters had offered funding to the centers to remove its unused facilities. Glenn responded with nine buildings it would like to demolish. Two of these, the Altitude Wind Tunnel and PSL No. 1 and 2, had played significant roles in the advancement of the nation’s propulsion technology.

Reactivation of PSL No. 1 and 2 was not an option, even if chamber 3 and 4 were not keeping up with test requests. The piping and air systems would have to be recertified, the control room had been cannibalized, and the mechanical, electrical, and safety equipment were obsolete. The Center was spending $76,000 annually to maintain an under-utilized office space. Headquarters agreed to the $3.17 million proposal and Glenn spent the next two years creating a demolition plan and soliciting bids. Demolition began in the fall of 2008 and was completed in 2009.





Cannibalization
Cannibalization
Marked for Removal
Marked for Removal
Demolition Begins
Demolition Begins
Demolition
 
access building
Access Building
Design services were obtained and demolition plans were created. Bids to perform the work were solicited and the contracted was awarded in 2007. The demolition consisted of three phases: relocation of the utilities, lead paint and asbestos remediation, and the actual demolition of the facility. The first step was the installation of perimeter fencing around the site in the spring of 2008. This was followed by lead paint and asbestos abatement, including the removal of the transite walls around the Access Building and Service Support Building.

The main demolition began in May 2009 with the removal of the Service Support Building and external pipes. Work ramped up quickly in June. The bulldozers tore into the Shop and Access Building and methodically ripped the two altitude tanks into pieces as the workers hosed down the dust. The interior of the massive primary coolers stood exposed for the first time in 60 years as the rubble piled up around them. The cooling vanes lay in tangled piles like an industrial haystack. By August it was all over. The coolers had been knocked down, and the debris had been loaded into trucks and hauled away. Approximately 1,000 tons of steel had been removed and recycled. Crews had removed the concrete foundations, graded the area, and slowly transformed the site into a parking lot and grassy area.

Documents:
     PSL Justification (PDF, 80KB)
demolition begins
Demolition Begins
test chamber demo
Test Chamber Demo
cooler demp
Cooler Demo