UltraSystems Kicks off New Year with Downey

In July 2020, the City of Downey began looking for qualified firms to provide the City with environmental consulting services for the Space Shuttle Exhibit and Education Building expansion project. The Director of Public Works/City Engineer recommended award of the project to UltraSystems to provide the best quality and value to the City Council for approval. The kick-off meeting with City staff to commence in January 2022.

Project Background

Since 2009, the City of Downey has operated the Columbia Memorial Space Center, a space museum and hands-on science learning center, with a mission to ignite a community of creative and critical thinkers. Over the years, the Space Center has seen its annual attendance at its site and programs grow to nearly 100,000 people, becoming a key center of education and community engagement in the Los Angeles region. Currently occupying a modern, architecturally significant facility, the City of Downey has the opportunity to expand the Space Center, allowing its building to keep pace with the growth of the organization and to strengthen the City’s and Space Center’s place as a major regional destination.

Preserving History

Serving as NASA’s official living tribute to the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia, the Space Center is located where the Apollo and Space Shuttle spacecraft were designed and built. While acknowledging the rich aerospace history of the area, the Space Center focuses on the future, working to be the hub of innovative STEM learning throughout Southern California. The expansion of the Columbia Memorial Space Center will add needed capacity and functionality to the organization, while also preserving and displaying significant artifacts of the US space program and providing the ability to highlight current space innovations from regional partners such as SpaceX, Virgin Orbit and NASA/JPL.

Looking to the Future

The expansion of the Space Center will be part of an integrated masterplan for the future of the Space Center which will transform its part of Downey’s Discovery Park, where the Space Center is located, into a unified community space meeting both the educational and social aspirations of the public. With the building expansion, the future Space Center campus will serve as a neighborhood center for STEM education and other social and community resources. The building expansion will be multi-purpose. Primarily, its main floor will be a flexible space that can accommodate gatherings of 250-300 guests, incorporating the latest AV equipment for professional presentations. The space also will serve as an active learning area when not hosting large gatherings, showcasing mobile exhibit elements that can be cleared when needed and serving as the location for hands-on STEM programming.

UltraSystems Joins Expansion Project

The City of Downey is proud of its rich legacy in American aviation and space history. UltraSystems is honored to have been selected to join Downey in this stellar expansion project. UltraSystems will be working collaboratively with City staff, project stakeholders, selected architectural design team and project management and construction management team to conduct and coordinate all tasks related to the preparation of the environmental document for the Space Shuttle Exhibit and Education Building. Starting with the Initial Study (IS) preparation, UltraSystems will identify and assess the extent of the project’s potential environmental impacts for the City.

The evaluation committee interviewed UltraSystems and determined the firm would be the right fit to manage, consult, and coordinate the project’s environmental documents among local, regional and state agencies with the City’s project team. UltraSystems is charged to ensure City policies, procedures and any applicable codes are complied with and that the environmental document will meet requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the City of Downey’s CEQA Guidelines and Procedures for a successful expansion endeavor together.


About Columbia Memorial Space Center

The Columbia Memorial Space Center brings the wonder and excitement of science and innovation to visitors of all ages. It is a hands-on space museum and activity center that strives to be the most accessible science-based experience in the Los Angeles area. Through world-class programs and engaging exhibits, the Space Center strives to ignite a community of critical and creative thinkers. View artifacts from the Space Center’s archive, including items donated by former employees of North American Aviation in Downey – the site where the Space Shuttles were designed and built. The Space Center is located on 12400 Columbia Way (formerly Clark Ave) in Downey, California.

About UltraSystems

UltraSystems, founded in 1994, is a multi-disciplinary, full service environmental consulting and planning firm serving both the public and private sectors. The 27-year-old firm provides expertise in development planning; site selection and analysis; CEQA and NEPA compliance; technical studies, and environmental compliance during construction. UltraSystems Environmental is certified as a WBE, SBE, DBE and WOSB company and is headquartered in Irvine, California.


Blog Author – Brandie Metcalf, MSEd, MA is the Senior Marketing Specialist at UltraSystems working on proposals, social media, and teaming opportunities at the Irvine Headquarter office.