NASA Industrial Plant, Manufacturing & Assembly Plant, 12214 Lakewood Boulevard, Downey, Los Angeles County, CA
Significance: Building 1 has a long history of construction. Originally built in 1929, it was continuously remodeled, added on to, and modified up until 1996. Building 1 is the largest building on the Downey site being 1 million square feet in size. Built during a very significant period of history when aircraft production was just beginning, Building 1 was responsible for the housing and construction of many aircraft under the companies EMSCO, and Vultee.
The innovative construction of the folding-wing plane by Kinner was once produced in Building 1, and during WWII under the company Vultee Aircraft Inc., 15 percent of the aircraft supplied for the WWII was built at the Downey site. Vultee was the "first aircraft manufacturing plant to use powered assembly lines, including a mechanized overhead conveyor, Vultee was able to produce more planes in a shorter span of time than any other similar plant."1 This conveyor system was located in Building 1.
Not only was Building 1 significant during the aircraft age, but also during the age of missile development and research as well as the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. Building 1 was used for large subassembly and final assembly operations on both aircraft and spacecraft command and service modules. Building 1 was also the earliest location for astronaut dormitories on the Downey site. Building 1 was utilized during the Space Shuttle program and housed the full-scale mock-up of the space shuttle.
Building 1 is considered "the administrative and historical "heart" of the NASA Industrial Plant. Beneath this building's roof there are approximately 22 separate building, some of which are part of the original plant constructed in 1929, and all of which contribute to the plants 70-year history of design, production, and testing for the aircraft/aerospace industry."2
1 National Aeronautics and Space Administration. "Final Historic Buildings and Structures Inventory and Evaluation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Industrial Plant Parcels I and II Downey, California." November 1999. Ch. 13 Historical Context.
Survey number: HAER CA-310-S
Building/structure dates: 1929 Initial Construction