US’ sprawling Antarctic headquarters to become modern science campus

Colorado-based OZ Architecture has announced its plan to completely redesign McMurdo Station, the US’ Antarctic research centre and the largest settlement in the continent.

McMurdo was founded in 1956 and has since grown to be a haphazard group of more than 100 structures over 164 acres, with few amenities.

Oz’s plan aims to improve the "livability, efficiency and sustainability of the entire community" by consolidating them into a six-building, 27,800 sq m campus.

At present, the 1,000 summer workers and 250 year-round residents of McMurdo must battle the Antarctic elements to walk from one building to the next for a meal, or to visit a science lab, or fetch goods from a warehouse. As well as the discomfort this brings, it results in heat loss and increased carbon emissions.

The new McMurdo Station will have laboratories, offices, a coffee house, a post office, a gym, barbershop, store, lounges, and power and water plants. As Antarctica can be an isolating environment, public spaces such as dining halls will provide pleasant, well-lit social spaces.

Building components for the project will be prefabricated and shipped to Antarctica for assembly. The aim is to ensure the building can be constructed in an environment whose mean summer temperature does not rise above -3°C.

Construction is expected to begin in 2019 and will take about five years to complete.

Images courtesy of OZ Architecture

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