December 13, 2011
When Larry Page and Sergey Brin needed somewhere to store their eight private jets, their first step was, presumably, to enter the words “large aircraft hangar” into the internet search engine they created.
They needn’t have bothered. Whatever direction Google pointed them in, the answer to the wealthy duo’s problems turns out to have been, quite literally, staring them in the face.
A few hundred yards from the Googleplex headquarters of their multi-billion-dollar business is Moffett Federal Airfield, a sprawling Nasa facility on the shore of San Francisco Bay. And west of its runway is Hangar One, a vast, historic structure, created from steel girders in the 1930s, which covers more than eight acres and remains one of the world’s largest freestanding buildings.
In recent times, the famous landmark – so big that it could contain four-and-a half Wembley pitches, and so tall, at 60m, that fog sometimes forms beneath its roof – has fallen into disrepair. The skin covering its frame is being removed, because it contains PCB, lead and asbestos.