COLD WAR INFRASTRUCTURE SERIES:
“the necessities of territorial dispersion increased the importance of communications but also highlighted their vulnerability. Indeed, after burying factories and warehouses underground, the railroads, roads, and airports represented the last surface equipment. This fixedness of the infrastructure, its permanent arrangement of the landscape , was called into question and mobile modular structures were adopted: the motorized bridges of engineers battalions, airfields made of prefabricated sheets, artificial ports of the “Mulberry” type, temporary runways in rolls, etc. ”
The cold war brought about two new strategies in military planning that have had a profound influence on the development of the post war city. The first was a strategy of dispersement; a way of dividing the infrastructure needs of the country into multiple locations, making it difficult to destroy in the case of nuclear attack. The second strategy was to use prefabrication and temporary structures, to increase the speed of deployment of the military in the case of attack. These strategies sought to move the united states away from the previous defensive military strategies towards a more mobile and responsive one.
These two fundamental shifts in thinking, are evident in the design of a new military building type for the cold war: the Alert Hangar. The alert hangars were dispersed around the country at different airfields and built at the edge of runways, in order to provide for constant defense of the perimeter of the United States. This hangar type consisted of combining a series of hangar pods with a central residential core and command center, allowing pilots to remain on 24-hour call near their fighter planes. They were designed with doors on both sides to allow the plane to accelerate out of the hangar directly onto the airstrip, with the goal of being airborne within 5 minutes of an alert call.
Developing out of prefabrication successes during WWII, steel building manufacturers built the alert hangars as complete “kits”, designed around the specific needs of military aircraft. The convenience and speed of having a completely manufactured product sent to a site for assembly allowed for flexibility in deployment. This strategy has since become the standard for hangar construction in the military, with a standard series of types available to fit most aircraft requirements.