By Libby Smith

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – Doors Open Denver is an annual opportunity for the public to explore the city’s built spaces. It’s hosted by the Denver Architecture Foundation. This year’s event is a mixture of ticketed in-person tours and free virtual tours. This year’s tours also expand beyond the Denver city limits to explore the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum in Colorado Springs and the National Center for Atmospheric Research complex in Boulder.

(credit Denver Architecture Foundation)

Located at the base of the Flatirons, the NCAR complex is a piece of modern architecture that is as unique in its design as it is blended into the scenery.

“You can’t image the mesa without Pei’s building there. It’s part of the landscape,” said Josh Robinson, Lead Project Designer for KEPHART and one of the tour guides for the virtual tour of the NCAR building.

(credit Denver Architecture Foundation)

I.M. Pei was the modernist architect who designed the Mesa Laboratory for NCAR in 1961. At the time, it was a rethinking of office space.

RELATED: NCAR Mourns The Death Of Architect I.M. Pei

“Each one of the towers is a separate building, on its own,” Robinson explained.

(credit Denver Architecture Foundation)

The NCAR building is really the masterpiece that put Pei on the architectural map, and it has become a defining aspect of the Boulder skyline.

“I think a lot of his work is very much about context, so he can build a place like NCAR that is respectful of the mountains,” Robinson said.

(credit Denver Architecture Foundation)

Josh Robinson, along with Tim Barnes, who is a NCAR scientist, lead the virtual tour of the buildings that gives viewers a sense of how the space has evolved over the years.

“We are going to go into some spaces that the public certainly wouldn’t have access to. We’ll look at the original supercomputer for the building, we’ll go out on some of those great balconies that are cantilevered all over the place,” Robinson told CBS4.

LINK: For Tickets & Information on Doors Open Denver

Doors Open Denver runs through October 17th. In-person tours are limited capacity, and COVID protocoled. Virtual tours are free and available on-demand.

Libby Smith