One of the newest attractions at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Cape Canaveral, FL is the $100 million Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit. Retired in 2011 after 33 successful missions, the Atlantis is housed in a dedicated structure that allows visitors of all ages the opportunity to experience the shuttle up close, and learn more about NASA's extensive Space Shuttle Program. The exhibit enclosure, completed in 2013, was designed by PGAV Destinations and features panels on its exterior from VMZINC, the international brand name of rolled zinc products manufactured and sold by the Building Products Unit of the Umicore Group.
To represent the space shuttle's launch and return from orbit, the 90,000 square foot exhibit features two massive, distinct wings. Representing the launch, the taller wing is covered in varying tones of VMZINC® flat lock panels to create a tile effect. Using panels in ANTHRA-ZINC, a rich charcoal black color, and QUARTZ-ZINC, a preweathered gray, the architect was able to create an aesthetic reminiscent of the tiled underside of the orbiter itself. VMZINC® standing seam panels also were used on the building’s roof.
NASA wanted to protect the shuttle from dust and debris while on display. In addition, it needed an impervious metal backdrop to showcase the craft in such a way as it appeared to be floating in orbit around Earth. The zinc panels were selected to meet these requirements from among other metal alternatives due to their cost effectiveness, durability and environmentally friendly qualities. Using several different colors of zinc, the exhibit offers visitors excellent views of Atlantis at every angle while protecting the property for many years to come.