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July 2010  •  Volume 3 Number 2

LSST on Cerro Pachón – Innovative, Sleek Building Design

Current LSST summit facility design concept is shaped by wind and topography

The design of the LSST summit support facility is progressing, and now features an innovative, sleek building design to complement the stunning views. Since May of 2006 we’ve known that LSST will be sited on Cerro Pachón, an 8,700-foot (2,650-meter) mountain peak in northern Chile, one kilometer west of the Gemini South and SOAR telescopes. Now ARCADIS Geotécnica, a Chilean firm contracted for the architecture and engineering of the LSST summit support facility, is working on the final design for the facility and showing us what LSST could look like at that location. The exterior building form in this concept developed by ARCADIS and their architectural subcontractor, Guillermo Hevia & Associates, is shaped by topography and aerodynamics. The building steps down following the natural terrain of the site and minimizing the height of the building relative to the telescope. The broad, sweeping panels of the support building are designed to catch upward airflow and channel it around the structure minimizing any warm ground-level air that would be pushed up into the observing path of the telescope. The surfaces and connections of the panels are designed to eliminate projections, which could induce turbulence, with window and vent openings tucked under the overhang of the panels above. The dome shown in this illustration was previously developed by computational fluid dynamics analysis and engineering studies as an integral part of the summit facility concept.

The support building, with 27,000 square feet (2,500 m2) on four different levels, includes clean rooms for on-site camera maintenance, a coating facility for LSST’s mirrors, and protected interior connections between all functional areas. The base structure for the dome and the telescope pier are also included in the ARCADIS design contract. Rough excavation of the site is anticipated in 2011.

J. Barr and S. Jacoby contributed to this article.


LSST is a public-private partnership. Funding for design and development activity comes from the National Science Foundation, private donations, grants to universities, and in-kind support at Department of Energy laboratories and other LSSTC Institutional Members:

Adler Planetarium; Brookhaven National Laboratory; California Institute of Technology; Carnegie Mellon University; Chile; Cornell University; Drexel University; George Mason University; Google Inc.; Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Institut de Physique Nucléaire et de Physique des Particules (IN2P3); Johns Hopkins University; Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford University; Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network, Inc.; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Los Alamos National Laboratory; National Optical Astronomy Observatory; Princeton University; Purdue University; Research Corporation for Science Advancement; Rutgers University; SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory; Space Telescope Science Institute; Texas A&M University; The Pennsylvania State University; The University of Arizona; University of California, Davis; University of California, Irvine; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; University of Michigan; University of Pennsylvania; University of Pittsburgh; University of Washington; Vanderbilt University

LSST E-News Team:

  • Suzanne Jacoby (Editor-in-Chief)
  • Anna Spitz (Writer at Large)
  • Mark Newhouse (Design & Production: Web)
  • Emily Acosta (Design & Production: PDF/Print)
  • Sidney Wolff (Editorial Consultant)
  • Additional contributors as noted

LSST E-News is a free email publication of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope Project. It is for informational purposes only, and the information is subject to change without notice.

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