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David Skaggs Research Center seen from Broadway.

East-side view of the David Skaggs Research Center in the winter of 1999, with Boulder's Flatirons formation in the background.

Named for U.S. Rep. David Skaggs, who represented Colorado's 2nd Congressional District from 1987-99, the Skaggs Research Center was constructed at the base of the Flatirons rock formation* in Boulder, Colorado on land already owned by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC). In 1989, Congressman Skaggs worked to pass an appropriation for the new facility and over the next six years helped NOAA negotiate key issues with the City of Boulder and Indian tribes as the project went forward.

The project was initiated in 1987, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration asked the General Services Administration to consolidate NOAA Boulder and Denver research laboratories, operational centers and offices into one facility. NOAA's divisions along the Front Range were then housed in obsolete and inadequate leased space in multiple locations, including the Weather Forecast Office located near the old airport in Denver.

For information about construction of the David Skaggs Research Center, photos of the site and construction, background and timeline of the project, please see these links:

Location of the David Skaggs Research Center and History of the DOC Site

It seemed an obvious and cost-effective choice to locate the new NOAA building on land in Boulder already occupied by another DOC science entity - the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The building occupied by NIST, known as the Radio Building, was dedicated in 1954 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, as the new home for the Central Radio Propagation Laboratory (CRPL), an early predecessor to both NOAA and NIST research laboratories.

Four years before the CRPL dedication ceremony, the people of Boulder had raised $90,000 in just two weeks to buy the land that they would donate to the Federal government to entice the Radio lab to relocate in Boulder. Due to Cold War concerns, Federal facilities were being decentralized in the early 1950s. Boulder could offer other important requirements for the lab, a location with varied terrain, freedom from radio wave interference, and proximity to the nearby University of Colorado.

The Central Radio Propagation Lab was instituted to study the how radio energy travels in space, including investigation of solar and geophysical effects on radio communication and the dynamics of the upper atmosphere. These areas of research are now conducted in Boulder by NOAA's Space Environment Center and a laboratory within the research arm of NOAA - the Earth System Research Laboratory which was born when six research organizations were consolidated in 2005.