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Observatory Gets Central Building


The Harvard College Observatory will begin construction early next year of a multi-million dollar central building for the observatory complex.

"The new building is intended to provide a center and focus for the observatory," said Leo Goldberg '34, Higgins Professor of Astronomy and director of the Harvard College Observatory. Nearly all the administrative offices will be moved into the new facility along with some Faculty and graduate student offices.

Additional space in the four-story, U-shaped building will relieve present overcrowding. Members of the astronomy department with offices and laboratories not now at the Observatory will be able to relocate there. "The new building will also make it possible to appoint about three additional professors with their research groups," Goldberg said. At present some Faculty positions are unfilled partly because there is too little room at the Observatory to accommodate more professors.

First Impressions

Besides adding space, the new building will improve "the helter-skelter arrangement of the present buildings and will provide the visitor with a definite entrance." Goldberg said. "The entrance will have an exhibition area and a new library will be located nearby so an arriving visitor will see a lot of activity."

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory will rent the fourth floor of the new building. The Smithsonian and Harvard currently share the Observatory buildings.

Source of Funds

The cost of the new building is estimated at over $3 million, said Goldberg, but he noted that rising construction costs could raise this figure still higher. Funds for the new building have come from several sources:

the Program for Harvard Science, which includes the construction of the new science center, has provided $1.5 million;

Harvard University has loaned nearly one million dollars, to be paid back to Harvard from the money received in rent from the Smithsonian;

the National Science Foundation has contributed one million dollars.

The Cambridge Seven Associates, the architects for the new building, have just completed its design. Goldberg said he hopes that ground-breaking will begin about the first of the year. Construction of the building should be completed in the fall of 1971.

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