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Foster's Spaceport dream begins to take off

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Norman Foster's dreams of designing the world's first Spaceport in New Mexico, USA are still alive after it was revealed that his practice is one of three teams shortlisted to take the scheme forward.

Despite drawing up an initial 'vision' for a commercial rocket terminal for Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic company, Foster & Partners was forced to enter an international competition to keep its grip on the prize project (AJ 19.04.07).

The practice, which has linked up with Seattle-based firm URS, has been named alongside two American design teams on the contest shortlist.

The other finalists are Dallas-based architectural giants HKS, with Antoine Predock of local New Mexican practice Albuquerque; and global behemoths Gensler, with Albuquerque locals Rohde May Keller McNamara Architecture.

Competition organiser the New Mexico Spaceport Authority is hoping the design teams will come up with 'iconic' proposals for a 9,000m2 hangar and a flight operations and office building on the site close to Roswell airforce base, site of an alleged UFO crash.

'Each of these teams will bring its own ideas, vision and energy as they compete to design the facility that will symbolise Spaceport America,' said Rick Homans, the authority's executive director.

'The finalists are all committed to designing a building that sets a new environmental standard, fits with the beautiful valley where the spaceport is located, and is the functional centrepiece of the world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport,' he added.

All three finalists have landed themselves a £20,000 honorarium to help progress their designs and a winner is expected to be announced in late July.

by Richard Waite

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