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Fort Collins, CO

In March 2020, the Fort Collins, CO NIST campus was determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) along with the Kehaka campus located on the Hawaiian island of Kauai as a multiple-property listing due to their exceptional national significance to the historic themes of science and engineering. These radio transmitter facilities are integral to receiving and transmitting the national standard for time calibrated through the atomic clock located at Building 1 at the NIST Boulder, CO campus as well maintaining the integrity of the nation’s radio airwaves.

Image of Fort Collins campus
Fort Collins, CO

Located about 30 minutes northeast of the Department of Commerce Boulder Laboratories, the 390-acre site was purchased in 1962, Over the next four years (1952-1956) the two transmitter facilities, double helix houses and antennae were all built.

The Fort Collins and Kekaha districts are broadcast facilities for national time standards, which support the NIST mission, and the time and frequency standards. The distribution of the national performance frequency standard (NPFS) through these radio transmitter facilities is a critical contribution to national standards that support infrastructure for scheduling, logistics, and public safety. These facilities are responsible for the maintenance of official time and frequency standards for government, private, and commercial operations. 

The Fort Collins campus is considered an historic district of functionally related buildings and structures. The district consists of two radio transmitter station buildings, two helix houses, and a total of 16 antenna structures as shown on the site map.

Surveyed and documented by professional architectural historians in September 2019 in accordance with Section 110 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (as amended), the campus was then evaluated using the National Register of Historic Places criteria for integrity and significance.  

Many routine maintenance and operational activities, however, are governed by a Programmatic Agreement (PA) developed by NIST and the SHPO. The PA, nonetheless, requires that the NIST FPO be apprised of any all such activities which in turn are documented and reported to the SHPO as part of an annual report.

Because the campus has been determined eligible for listing in the NRHP, all proposed changes to the buildings, grounds and structures must comply with the Secretary of the Interiors Standards (SOI Stds.) and are subject to advance review and consultation with the Colorado State Historic Preservation Office. The point of contact for all communications with SHPO is the NIST Federal Preservation Officer (FPO).

Fort Collins Resources:

Created July 15, 2020, Updated October 26, 2023