Denver Federal Center: Building 710, Lakewood, CO

This building is a 2-level, square, underground facility constructed of concrete and steel designed in a 'Cold War Defense Structure' style of architecture. Its lower level is completely below ground, and its upper level is partially below ground, with earthen bermed walls and three feet of earth fill covering its roof. All that can be seen of the structure from the exterior include its concrete entrances, mechanical equipment, a few pipes, and antennae which rise from the large grassed mound (DFC Architectural Inventory, 1996). The east, main entrance is a concrete 5 x 2 bay square, set into the east elevation of the mound. It has a central, double aluminum-frame door which is flanked on each side by fixed-pane, aluminum-sash windows. The north and south elevations of the entrance each have two fixed-pane window bays. The roof of the entrance is flat, composed of reinforced concrete. A concrete overhanging eave above the doors and windows is supported by triangular pilasters which separate the window bays.

Upon entering the building's lobby and immediately to the north, is a set of doors which leads to a tunnel connecting Building 710 with Building 710A. This tunnel is not original and was constructed in 1985, along with Building 710-A. West of these doors, stairs lead down to a large steel vault door, directly entering into a vestibule on the upper level of the building. The building¿s upper level interior has the appearance of an office building without windows, with a large operations room at the center. The lower level originally housed male and female dormitories, medical facility rooms, and still houses mechanical systems, storage, offices, restrooms, lunchroom, and kitchen. Circulation halls have maintained their original configuration on both levels, including stairs wells at both entrance vestibules and a freight elevator at the west entrance vestibule.

The west service entrance was originally an open concrete structure. It has maintained most of its original configuration, but has been enclosed with concrete masonry units, glass block, pedestrian doors, and garage door. A long concrete tunnel leads to a large steel vault door, directly entering into a vestibule on the upper level of the building.

The surrounding site of Building 710's earthen mound includes a circular concrete cooling tower, several antennae, an entry sign, and original landscape light fixtures near the east entry. The east entry has landscaped areas, including a picnic area just off the main entrance. Asphalt paving and parking is located just east of the landscaped area.

(Information for this section was collected from the DFC Draft Historic Preservation Plan, 1997, and Architectural Inventory, 1996, and FEMA Building 710 Pamphlet.)

As a part of an intensive architectural survey of the Denver Federal Center, Building 710 was evaluated by the Colorado State Historic Preservation Office and found to meet National Register Criteria. This building, constructed in 1969, meets National Register criteria A and C under Consideration G, governing resources under 50 years of age. Criterion A includes properties associated with one or more events important in its historic context, and Criterion C applies to properties significant for their physical design or construction. Building 710 possesses a high level of integrity and national significance illustrating the Cold War heritage of the United States. As one of eight original permanent, federal Regional Operating Centers, Building 710 was built to serve as the Region 6 Office of Civil Defense (OCD) operations center for the federal government in the event of a nuclear attack, and has exceptional historical significance with respect to our nation¿s waging of the Cold War. It also represents a building type and method of construction that is unique to these eight facilities, being designed solely for survival in the event of a nuclear attack. Building 710 has undergone few changes and contains most of its operations systems. The site, however, has been altered somewhat with the construction of Building 710-A and connecting underground tunnel in 1985, and Building 720 to the northeast in 1992. The building possesses integrity of location, and a high degree of integrity of materials, design, workmanship, and feeling. The objective of this historic building preservation plan is to provide critical historical and architectural information so that future appropriate rehabilitation efforts may be completed and any improvements to the building, site, and surroundings do not cause loss of Building 710¿s historic integrity.

Upon completion of construction, the OCD moved its operations from Building 50 and its adjacent bunker to Building 710 until it was abolished on May 5, 1972, when the new Defense Civil Preparedness Agency (DCPA) took over the center¿s operations. DCPA continued to use the facility until July 15, 1979, when the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was transferred the responsibility for civil defense operations as its Region Eight Operations Center. To date, FEMA continues use of this facility to coordinate national emergencies and disasters of all types.

Constructed of concrete and steel, the two story building has approximately 36,000 square feet and rests under three feet of earth. The building has a fallout protection factor of 1000 and was designed to withstand the worst nuclear attack. The power system is fed by a main and back-up generator system and water is stored in a 5,000 gallon water tank, with back-up from an underground well. The building was capable of housing 300 emergency personnel for up to 30 days with food and lodging facilities. The communications center was contained in its own separate "metal box" room designed to shield sensitive equipment from electromagnetic pulse. Located next to the structure are above-ground and below-ground antennae.

(Information for this section was collected from the DFC Draft Historic Preservation Plan, 1997, Architectural Inventory, 1996, and FEMA Building 710 Pamphlet.)

Description Architect
1969 1969 Original Construction U.S. Army, Corp of Engineers
1975 1976 Repair blast door
1976 1977 Construct fence & gate around antenna field
1977 1977 Install emergency power system
1977 1978 Conduct humidification and air balancing
1978 1978 Replace government furnished refrig. condensers
1979 1979 Install chain link fence
1979 1979 Handicapped provisions
1979 1981 Install a hot water storage tank
1980 1981 Replace three water pumps
1980 1981 Rehabilitation of FEMA multipurpose area
1981 1981 Installation of replacement chiller
1982 1982 Install halon fire suppres. syst. in comm. area
1982 1982 Partial interior painting
1982 1982 Install fire sprinklers in building
1984 1985 Design & construct FEMA vehicle storage facility Corps of Engineers
1985 1985 Underground tunnel constructed to Building 710A
1987 1987 Scheduled cyclical carpet replacement
1988 1988 Kitchen improvements
1990 1990 Replace existing number one chiller
1993 1993 Air infiltration improvements
1994 1994 Enclose service entry
1995 1995 Office painting
1995 1995 Replace humidifier / repair antenna fence
1995 1995 Replace main entrance sidewalk
Last Reviewed: 2017-08-13