As I.M. Pei said in Paul Heyer's American Architecture: Ideas and Ideologies in the Late Twentieth Century, "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."
Concrete walls mixed with local sandstone aggregate were bush-hammered to help them blend with their mountainous surroundings.
Sited atop the Walter Orr Roberts Mesa, named after the first director of NCAR, the Mesa Laboratory offers specatular views of the mountains above, and the city of Boulder below.