William Lowell Putnam Collection Center

William Lowell Putnam Collection Center and Library

Lowell Observatory

The William Lowell Putnam Collection Center and Library located in Flagstaff, Arizona is the newest addition to Lowell Observatory’s educational facilities. Situated on a site that is heavily forested, significantly sloped and contains substantial amounts of basalt bedrock, this facility was constructed through both monsoon and winter seasons in an environmentally sensitive area on Lowell’s active observatory campus.

The Putnam Collection Center and Library serves as a resource center for historian study and includes a research library, processing room, staff offices and a collections repository that houses historic photographs, photographic glass plates, an array of antique instruments, artifacts, and an archive of historic papers. While the library and collections areas are closed to the public, the building lobby contains a public exhibit that highlights the Observatory’s history.

With the Steele Visitor Center, Hendricks Center for Planetary Studies, metal/fabrication shop and smaller historic observatories located directly adjacent to the new facility, construction was scheduled so that all nearby facilities remained in full operation throughout project duration. Because necessary rock blasting took place adjacent to historic telescope enclosures, buildings and sensitive equipment, seismic monitors were utilized to verify resulting vibration activity. Blasting was precisely scheduled to avoid disruption to Observatory visitors and surrounding public areas.


  • Temperature /humidity controlled archival center integrated with a hydronic in-floor heating system
  • Motorized solar tubes that controlled lighting and UV in sensitive areas
  • A special walk-in freezer installed with temperatures at -20° utilized to kill bacteria and insects prior to archiving material
  • Loven Contracting designed an effective glycol snowmelt system under a loading dock area with permeable pavers. This system required installation over 2” of rigid foam insulation, yet still had to have the compressive strength to support delivery trucks and general traffic.