I.M.Pei with Red Pussytoes

Fifty years ago on July 21, 1999, Boulder voters overwhelmingly approved the Blue Line, a 5,750-foot line north from Eldorado Springs west of which the city would no longer provide water. As a result most of the mesas west of Boulder are free from residential and commercial development. There are many uncluttered sweeping vistas along Boulder’s western backdrop. One notable exception to this Blue Line restriction is the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s Mesa Laboratory. I suppose if you are going to put a big building in one of the most beautiful places in the world you better hire a great architect…and they did. I.M Pei designed the Mesa Lab to be in harmony with its surroundings and I grudgingly admit that he did a good job. It is also a great place to visit. There is an interpretative nature trail and a nice visitors area in the lobby. It is also a major trailhead for Open Space and Mountain Park trails.

Is it beautiful? You decide. I took this from the lower North Shanahan Ridge at GPS coordinates 39°58’8.85″N 105°15’51.75″W. NCAR is on the right in this photo…

View toward NCAR Mesa with Field of Antennaria microphylla (Red Pussytoes)

View toward NCAR Mesa with Field of Antennaria microphylla (Red Pussytoes)

The Mesa Lab was so futuristic looking when it was built in the 1960s that it was used as “The Institute” in the Woody Allen science fiction film SLEEPER. Here is a closer view…

The Mesa Lab was so futuristic looking when it was built in the 1960s that it was used as "The Institute" in the Woody Allen science fiction film SLEEPER. Boulder Colorado 1996

  “You just cannot compete with the scale of the Rockies. So we tried to make a building that was without the conventional scale you get from recognizable floor heights—as in those monolithic structures that still survive from the cliff-dwelling Indians.” — I.M. Pei

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One Response to “I.M.Pei with Red Pussytoes”

  1. The Magic Beyond NCAR Mesa « Tales from the Trails Says:

    […] is one of my favorite spring  photography hikes so I thought it was high time to go west beyond I.M.Pei’s Mesa Lab to capture some of this season’s magic. Beyond NCAR […]

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