Significance

Spiral staircase in the Mesa Lab library. The staircase is surrounded by book stacks and there are skylights in the ceiling above.

 

The Mesa Laboratory has made its mark on modern architecture.  Stylistically, Pei's building remains impossible to pigeon-hole, while its influence is visible everywhere in the broken, complex geometries of contemporary buildings.  The building and its site have captured the public imagination, often appearing in documentaries, movies, and art. Above all, the Mesa Laboratory is a unique architectural creation - a building that still appears unique and modern decades after completion.

In 1997, the NCAR Mesa Laboratory received the American Institute of Architects Colorado 25-Year Award for its ability to "withstand the test of time and still function in its original capacity."  Pei sums up the building's impact neatly.  "The shapes have been cribbed time and time again.  But the spirit of the NCAR building is in context, in the site."