Overview       Pei & his Buildings     Walter Orr Roberts      NCAR Design         Collaboration      Influences      The NCAR Mesa       Signifigance

Boulder's Blue Line and Vote

Many parcels of land were available in Boulder for the NCAR headquarters, but the Table Mesa site was always the favorite. Walt Roberts could see the mesa top from his home and felt that its dramatic presence suggested “the dignity and importance of the center as a national scientific laboratory.”

In 1959, the City of Boulder was already concerned about foothill development and had amended its charter to include a line above which city water would not be supplied. Roberts pledged that the area would remain a nature preserve and that the building would be environmentally sensitive. After much debate, voters passed the NCAR amendment to the Boulder Blue Line by a margin of 3.5 to 1.

Mesa Lab and its natural settingA special “NCAR mixture” of indigenous grasses was used to reseed the entire area after construction in 1966 so that nature comes right up to the NCAR buildings.

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Boulder, Colorado
An arial view of Boulder, Colorado -- home to NCAR.
© 2009 UCAR


NCAR w/ Boulder in backgroundAn image of the NCAR Mesa Lab from one of many trails surrounding the center, with the city of Boulder in the background. © 2009 UCAR

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