The external form of the museum was inspired by traditional aircraft hangar shapes found at the old Brisbane Airport Terminal, making this iconic inspirational for man appropriate resting place for the historic, vintage Southern Cross aeroplane, which was flown across the Pacific by Sir Charles Kingsford Smith.
The glass enclosure was designed to enable the public to experience the aircraft at close quarters. The glass is shaded by the generous overhangs which protect the artefact from direct ultraviolet sunlight, and unwanted radiation is excluded by incorporating these generous overhangs to the north.
The glass enclosure wall to the south is shaded by vertical fins to exclude direct angular solar glare. The roof falls on the east and west to meet landscaped earth berms. These earth berms protect the museum from early morning and late afternoon sun penetration, reducing the heat load on the building.
The suspended structural glazing system is sloped so as to minimise reflectivity on the glass when viewing the artefact from the ground level. The combination of shading and structurally designed glass wall permits uninterrupted photography of the historic Fokker F7 monoplane, without the difficulties of reflective glare or an imbalance of lighting levels. The internal space of the museum is controlled to specific temperatures and humidity's that preserve the historic aeroplane and its fabric.
1989 – RAIA, Finalist Non-Residential: Sir Charles Kingsford Smith Memorial