Renovated Wright Brothers Memorial Visitor Center Re-Opens [Video / Photo Gallery]
The grand re-opening of the newly renovated Visitor Center at Wright Brothers National Memorial took place today (Oct. 20), but we attended a special media preview yesterday to see the high tech new exhibits and features that await the next time you visit the site of the first powered flight.
From the fall of 2016 through Oct. 19, 2018, the 9,000-square-foot visitor center at Wright Brothers National Memorial was closed for a project to preserve and restore its architecturally significant features and to rehabilitate its mechanical and electrical systems. The cost of the rehabilitation project was approximately $5.8 million, awarded to Group III Management, Inc., of Kinston, North Carolina.
The project earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, as significant care was taken to maintain the historic character of this National Historic Landmark, including restoration of the historic interior wood paneling, refinishing of interior metalwork, installation of historic ceiling grid tiles where possible and replica tiles as needed, and color pallet selected based on historic documentation.
Numerous other upgrades were made, such as unique utilization of space to optimize public access throughout the building, installation of a new mechanical system that takes advantage of a geothermal well field 250 feet deep with 48 wells, and installation of electric solar panels and high-tech lighting, audio, and security systems. Window units made of stainless steel were replaced for longevity and triple-pane glazing units were installed to withstand hurricane forces as well as obtain thermal and UV efficiency.
But that’s just the rehabilitation of the building itself, as the exhibit project, awarded to Formations, Inc., of Portland, Oregon for approximately $1.5 million, brings the story of Orville and Wilbur Wright to life like never before with all new interactive, fully accessible exhibits.
Among the new items on display are two artifacts that Neil Armstrong took with him to the moon in 1969, a fragment of one of the wooden propellers and a fragment of cloth from the Wrights’ original 1903 Flyer, as well as an original piece of wing fabric and a propeller from the 1903 Flyer.
You can preview all that’s new inside the renovated Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center in our video walkthrough and photo gallery below.
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