New digs for atmospheric chemistry

Crosstown move to enhance ACD labs

by Nicole Gordon

About this time next year, staff in NCAR’s Atmospheric Chemistry Division (ACD) and their visitors from academia will be settling into brand-new, state-of-the-art chemistry labs. Construction crews recently broke ground on a $13 million, 82,000-square-foot building on the northwest corner of UCAR’s Foothills campus in northeast Boulder (see map). The new building will house all of ACD’s labs, offices, and meeting rooms, which are currently across town at the Mesa Laboratory.


The new FL0 building (orange) will sit at the northwest end of the Foothills campus, connected to FL3 and FL2 by second-floor bridges.

“We’ll have room to breathe and grow here,” says Danny McKenna, director of ACD. “We’ve really exceeded the capacity of the Mesa Lab.”

The heart of the new building will contain labs for classical chemistry, calibration, and instrumentation; toxic gas handling; satellite instrumentation and optical remote sensing instrumentation; and greenhouse labs to study the chemical emissions of plants and their interactions with the atmosphere.

“These will be 21st-century labs,” McKenna says. In addition to modern safety and optimization features, the labs have flexible space that ACD can reconfigure to serve different research needs. Around the central core of laboratories and meeting rooms will be a shell with offices and space for visitors. The building will also have an atrium for poster presentations and other gatherings. “We’ll have a much more friendly environment for interactions,” McKenna says, pointing out that ACD staff are currently spread out on different floors of the Mesa Lab, which makes divisional unity a challenge.


Workers made quick progress on FL0 construction this fall. (Photo by Carlye Calvin.)

The new building will also facilitate ACD’s collaboration with UCAR members and affiliates, particularly on projects relating to the HIAPER aircraft (see article, page 1), for which ACD is building and maintaining many community instruments. “I expect ACD to have a major role in making sure these instruments are fully supported for the community, ” McKenna says. “When collaborators come from the universities, we’ll have an easier job accommodating them.”