Design and Construction for Aerospace

BRPH is Building Tomorrow’s Structures Today

by Brian Curtin

The international aviation market is currently experiencing some of its largest growth in a number of years.  To help keep up with demand, commercial aviation companies are turning to architectural firms to design new manufacturing facilities that can accommodate these massive increases in production.

From 10,000 square foot operation centers to 1.2 million square foot assembly buildings, BRPH has designed facilities for major aviation companies such as Embraer, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Pratt & Whitney, General Dynamics, GE, Gulfstream and others.  In the past ten years alone, we have master planned and designed over $2 billion in aviation facilities.  Closer to home, we have played a large role at Melbourne International Airport over the years, having designed the airport’s terminal, and more recently, Embraer’s multi-phase customer center and manufacturing facility, MidairUSA’s proposed facility and others.

Designing Intelligent Buildings

Growth is often one of the main reasons an aviation company chooses to move forward with a new building, but technology and efficiency are starting to play a major role in helping build the case for the expense of these new facilities.

In today’s aviation market, nearly all facilities are turning “green.”  Not the color, but the movement to reduce a building’s footprint and impact on the environment.  These resource-saving steps ensure a building is reducing its impact on the globe and at the same time bringing cost savings to the client.

For example, an organized placement of clearly identified sustainable concepts in the design can have a major effect on the size of the building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment.  As the HVAC equipment gets smaller, so does the amount of energy required to power it.  Combine the cost savings associated with lower energy requirements with light-control sensors that automatically turn lights off in appropriate conditions, and electricity requirements fall further.  And because lights create heat, having lights on less often means you’ll require less energy to cool the space, making it possible to reduce HVAC size even further.  This ripple effect can lead to substantial savings for a company.

Factors in Functional Designs

Great strides are also being made in the application of lean manufacturing in the aviation market.  This streamlined management process is increasing efficiency and decreasing waste on manufacturing floors across the world.  The placement of equipment and workflow order is identified early in the design process and therefore can be incorporated into the final facility.  Through the use of building information modeling software, a process flow can be developed that demonstrates to the client how their parts will be handled from inventory acceptance to final product delivery.  The smallest design strategies can help aviation companies meet demands while profit margins remain tight.

Overall, aviation facilities have changed significantly over the last twenty years.  Improved working environments for employees and safety considerations now rule the initial design conversation.  Spaces are significantly more open, creating brighter, lighter facilities that encourage worker productivity.  Utilizing day lighting and views through design minimizes the energy required to illuminate internal spaces resulting in improved conditions for a company’s workforce and cost savings for the client.

Another large factor in the way a facility is designed is the high safety culture that exists within the aviation market.  There is an enhanced awareness of making a facility the safest structure it can be, while limiting front line employee exposure to risk.  Through technology and new software programs, we are executing case studies in tandem with the design process that rate a facility’s safety as well as expose areas of concern.  We are then able to modify our approach through this process, alleviating client concerns and producing an ultra-safe facility.


Brian Curtin, P.E., is president of BRPH Architects – Engineers, Inc., a subsidiary of BRPH Companies, an architecture, engineering and construction services firm headquartered in Brevard County for nearly 50 years.


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