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A Collaborative Journey

Walter Orr Roberts was a visionary with high aspirations for the new center. At the time of his appointment as NCAR’s first director, Roberts was based in Boulder at the University of Colorado’s High Altitude Observatory. His selection tipped the scales toward Boulder as the site of the headquarters structure.

Pei and Roberts worked closely in the creation of the Mesa Laboratory. A committee of scientists had significant input as well. The scientists wanted an unspoiled, natural compound for their workplace and a contemplative atmosphere. Pei met all of the demands — designing a campus worthy of being a national headquarters and a building that is one with its site in line, color, and texture.

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Walter Orr Roberts and I.M. PeiWalter Orr Roberts (left) and I.M. Pei during festivities celebrating the completion of the NCAR Mesa Lab.