After many years of occupying the original 1937 air terminal at Manchester, the New Hampshire Aviation Historical Society needed more space. NHAHS envisioned a large, flexible space that could house its collection of artifacts, a classroom, and function space for its events.


For SMP, The physical solution was not hard to see. There was just room for a hangar-like building attached to the rear of the old terminal to house the museum the society envisioned, and, because the building’s historic status posed some challenges, SMP was guided through the process by the State Historic Preservation Officer. The museum had equipment and parts from full-sized airplanes, but the bulk of the collection was scale models, multimedia displays, and 2D graphics. Before finalizing the shape and size of the addition, we successfully encouraged our client to add museum display experts to the team.


SMP then proposed an idea to tie the concept together: If the exterior appearance of the addition was to reference an art deco hangar, the interior would be organized as a scaled-down version of the airport. The concrete floors, both economical and practical for rolling displays, would be striped off with runways. The interior rooms would be treated as airport buildings around the perimeter. Overhead doors, which allowed larger displays to be hauled in from outside, were treated as hangar doors on the inside. Materials, such as corrugated metal, were used inside to enhance the effect. Trusswork and lighting tracks were exposed overhead. The concept was enhanced and amplified by our team of retired pilots, and the end result was right on-theme, affordable, practical, and flexible.