Situated just north of Los Angeles International Airport, the Hercules Campus at Playa Vista is a former aircraft production plant that was once owned by Howard Hughes. Known as the headquarters of the Hughes Aircraft Company (HAC), the sprawling 28-acre facility, which was constructed in 1941 and originally spanned 260 acres, was comprised of offices, warehouses and airplane hangars. HAC is best known as the site where the legendary Spruce Goose (aka the "Flying Boat" and formally known as the Hughes H-4 Hercules) was built. After being shuttered in the 1990s, much of the land was sold off and razed. Eleven of the buildings were left intact. Several were converted into sound stages and the property began to be utilized regularly for filming.
The vast majority of Independence Day was lensed at HAC. Not only were a few of the complex’s office spaces used in the shoot - one of the offices masked as the Compact Cable facility where Jeff Goldblum's character, David Levinson works - but the bulk of the movie’s interior sets were constructed in Building 15, where the Spruce Goose was built. The massive seven-story, 742-foot-long hangar housed the entire Area 51 base, the White House interiors, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute, and the Pentagon’s Space Command facility.
Independence Day’s most iconic scene was shot just outside of Building 15. In the parking lot located just east of the hangar, an intricate 1:12 scale, 14x5-foot plaster model of the White House was blown up in spectacular fashion. The hovering alien spaceship and its deadly light beam were added in post-production, creating one of the most iconic images in movie history. The scene in which David and his father, Julius (Judd Hirsch) arrive at the White House at the beginning of the film was also shot at the same spot, using the same scale model and a bit of forced perspective. Other films lensed at HAC include Swing Shift, Transformers, Avatar and Eagle Eye. Today, the property is owned by The Ratkovich Company, which purchased the 28-acre site in October 2010 and transformed HAC into an innovative, state of the art office and production complex.