Military Wiki
Chidlaw Building
USAF Western Regional Operations Building[1]
office building
former military headquarters
The Chidlaw building "war room" was similar to the SAGE "blue room".
Name origin: General Benjamin W. Chidlaw
Country United States
State Colorado
County El Paso
Nearest AFB[2]
Colorado Springs
Ent Air Force Base
Location 2221 East Bijou Street [3]
October 30, 1961[4]
March 7, 1963[5]
SAGE code tbd
Area 300,000 sq ft (2.8 ha)[6]
Not to be confused with the nearby Federal Building used by the military after Ent AFB closed.

The Chidlaw Building was a USAF military installation and headquarters of several Cold War military commands. The facility rented by the military[2] for several decades is now used as a private office building.


"The requirement for a BMEWS display facility brought consideration early in 1958 on a long-standing need for a new COC".[7]:154 A leased building for a military installation near Ent Air Force Base was proposed in 1958[7]:158 for the "interim BMEWS central display facility"[8]:93 with "ZI BMEWS equipment"[7]:158 needed in the Zone of the Interior after the date set for the Clear [Air Force Station] site".[8]:93 (The Denver SAGE bunker was cancelled in 1960, and the Colorado Springs NORAD bunker was not started until 1961.) On March 18, 1959, the USAF told the BMEWS Project Office[where?] to proceed with the interim facility,[8]:93 and another location option for an "AICBM control center" with an anti-ICBM C3 computer[7]:148 (e.g., when the USAF Wizard[7]:157 and/or Nike Zeus ABMs became operational) was to use the basement of the 1954 NORAD command center building.[7]:158 A "satellite prediction computer" could be added to the missile warning center if "the hardened COC…slipped considerably beyond January 1962".[8]:93 Instead, a BMEWS display facility with "austere and economical construction with minimum equipment" was planned in an "annex to the current COC building"[8]:92 at Ent AFB by September 1960[8]:94 (the "SPADATS operation center began in July 1961 at building P4's annex).[9] The plan for extra space at a leased facility was instead used for the Combined Operations Center when the delay of the Cheyenne Mountain Complex warranted an earlier Semi-Automatic Ground Environment command post[10] (interim Air Defense Operations Center) for combining NORAD's attack warning and CONAD's weapons direction missions.

Combined Operation Center[]

The Chidlaw Building was built to house the NORAD[11] "Combined Operations Center"[12] which moved ½ mi (¾ km)[13] from Ent Air Force Base.[1] The facility included a "war room",[14] an IBM 1410 computer in 1965 for systems analysis,[15] and air defense consoles presenting data from various Air Divisions (e.g., for the Goose Air Defense Sector in Canada). Systems which transmitted data to the building included IBM AN/FSQ-8 Combat Control Centrals at SAGE Combat Centers which "forwarded the divisional air defense status to" NORAD.[16]

On October 30, 1961, groundbreaking ceremonies were held a few miles east of downtown Colorado Springs. On June 6, 1962, construction began. And on February 15, 1963—only nine months later—NORAD moved in.

The building was constructed with fortified walls and featured two electrical substations, limited entry access, a 174-seat auditorium, six conference rooms, parking for 1,100 cars and elaborate heating, cooling and ventilation systems. A total of sixty-eight 33-ton prefabricated concrete and steel reinforced slabs, each measuring 24 by 32 feet and seven inches thick, were used in the "tilt-up" construction of the exterior walls. The building has two floors, each spanning 3 1/2 acres. More than 7,000 cubic yards of concrete were poured during construction. The total cost was more than US$2.6 million.

Within the Chidlaw Building, there were 2,950 feet of corridors, more than 2 1/2 miles of movable wall partitions and 722 doors—often making it difficult to find your way around the building. To help staff and visitors navigate throughout the structure, an elaborate mapping system was created where the east-west corridors were called "Runways" and the north-south corridors were called "Taxiways." Hand-held maps were also provided."[14]

As the highest echelon of command and control for the SAGE Defense System, the Chidlaw Building was the primary node of NORAD's Alert Network Number 1 to warn military installations (low rate teletype data, e.g., SAC Emergency War Order Traffic[17] that included "Positive Control/Noah's Ark instructions" through northern NORAD radio sites to confirm or recall SAC bombers if "SAC decided to launch the alert force before receiving an execution order from the JCS".)[7] NORAD/ADC operations transferred to Cheyenne Mountain on April 20, 1966, and the Space Defense Center became fully operational on February 6, 1967[12] (in 2006, NORAD/NORTHCOM operations transferred to the Peterson Air Force Base command center).

Command headquarters[]

In addition to the Combined Operations Center, the Chidlaw Building housed the headquarters for several military commands:

North American Aerospace Defense Command
NORAD "moved in" to the Chidlaw Building on February 15, 1963. During this so-called "Operation Move," seventeen office locations from around the community were physically consolidated into the new Chidlaw Building. This involved more than 300 moving personnel, 40 moving and open bed trucks, five fork lifts and two cranes. The entire move involved the relocation of approximately 1.5 million pounds of office furniture, equipment and supplies. The move, scheduled over a long holiday weekend, began at 5 p.m. on Thursday and continued around the clock until 8 a.m. on Monday, when the new headquarters was completely "back in business." [4][unreliable source?]
Continental Air Defense Command
CONAD/NORAD/ADC offices were consolidated on March 7, 1963; and CONAD was disestablished on June 30, 1975.[4]
USAF Aerospace Defense Command
On July 1, 1975, "Headquarters ADCOM" was established at the Chidlaw Building[12] when Ent Air Force Base was closing.
Air Defense, Tactical Air Command
On 21 September 1979, the ADTAC headquarters of MGen Piotrowski was established at the Chidlaw Building.[18] ADTAC received Aerospace Defense Command's "atmospheric" assets (interceptors, bases, and SAGE radar stations) on October 1, 1979 (Strategic Air Command "assumed responsibility for missile warning and space surveillance systems").[18]
Air Force Space Command
Beginning September 1, 1982, the Chidlaw Building was used as the AFSPC headquarters which moved in November 1987 to Peterson AFB's "Building 1"[19] (renamed Hartinger Building in April 2003).[20] The Chidlaw Building had been the site of the January 1978 presentation to "a general-officer review group chaired by new SAC Commander in Chief General Richard H. Ellis and ADCOM Commander General Hill" formally advocating formation of Space Command.[21]
United States Space Command
"During December 1987, 2500 USSPACECOM and AFSPACECOM personnel relocated to their new Headquarters on Peterson AFB [Bldg 1470 (Ent Building) for USSPACECOM] from the Chidlaw Building".[22]

During military withdrawal from the building, paintings were rescued[23] and the chair used by President Kennedy (who received a Cheyenne Mountain briefing on June 5, 1963)[24] was removed to the Peterson Air and Space Museum.[25] Premiere Conferencing later acquired the Chidlaw Building for its Colorado Springs conference center.[11] Several million dollars were spent in 1992 to gut the building, make numerous improvements and turn it into office space. The building went under foreclosure in 2012 with a roughly 55% vacancy, "a Time Warner Cable customer service center…is the building’s largest tenant".[26]

External images
5 Pikes Peak Library "Chidlaw Building" images


  1. A look back: Rivera's legacy as mayor spans SDS, USOC and PrideFest. (2011-06-04). Retrieved on 2013-09-18.
  2. 2.0 2.1 title tbd (Report). "Ent, which also served as ADC headquarters, collected regional clearinghouse data and integrated it for marking a large aircraft-movement plotting board. These bases, among others, served as links between the radar sites and fighter-interceptor bases.40 ... Ent AFB, headquarters for ADC, provided another example of the lack of adequate USAF facilities in certain locales. It actually was “a complex of buildings within Colorado Springs” and the nearby Chidlaw Building, an expensive rental arrangement that precluded mission expansion. In 1975, Ent was redesignated an annex subordinate to Peterson AFB (Table 3.8).67" 
  3. Premiere Global Services, Inc. - 10-K - For 12/31/04 - EX-10.57. SEC Info. Retrieved on 2013-09-18.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 When was the chidlaw building constructed on Colorado. Retrieved on 2013-09-18.
  5. "HR97-1007 by Representative May". 1997. Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  6. Colorado Front Range Development Thread - Page 34 - SkyscraperPage Forum. Retrieved on 2013-09-18.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 North American Air Defense Command Historical Summary (Report).…4665.10015.0.10346.…0.0…1c.1.11.psy-ab.PtW1PnDduyg&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&fp=94c1fca23fa8c111&biw=1600&bih=793. [specify]
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Preface by Buss, L. H. (Director) (1 November 1959). North American Air Defense Command and Continental Air Defense Command Historical Summary: January–June 1959 (Report). Directorate of Command History: Office of Information Services. 
  9. 1961–1969 Historical reports from the Squadron on file at the Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB AL, AFHRA Microfilm reel KO363
  10. "title tbd" (Word doc). "Staff Colorado Liaison, Colorado Springs … Command Post in the Chidlaw Building…Jimmie" 
  11. 11.0 11.1 pdf
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 chronology, chronology
  13. "Google Map with route from Ent AFB to Chidlaw Bldg".,-104.787804&daddr=East+Boulder+Street,+Colorado+Springs,+CO+and+North+Union+Blvd&hl=en&ll=38.837117,-104.791138&spn=0.010262,0.013046&sll=38.838657,-104.794403&sspn=0.010262,0.013046&geocode=FdaTUAIdpBDB-Q%3BFYGhUAId3fbA-Sn1SKCYqEUThzEZfSlFkCIhSA&t=h&mra=ls&z=16. Retrieved 2012-07-17. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 The USAF in Space. (2009-06-14). Retrieved on 2013-09-18.
  15. "title tbd". "WO Ernie Crossley, Captain Richard Linder and I would be assigned to the ADC Command Post at the Chidlaw Building in Colorado Springs, not far from Ent AFB. This was a huge two-story building with hundreds of employees, many of them, civilians. I was one of the first people assigned to the computer support branch headed up by LtCol. David Biggs. I was put in charge of the Systems Analysis Section. There was a new IBM 1410 Computer, which was standard throughout the Air Force for major air command support" 
  16. Belzer, Jack (September 1, 1975) (Google Books). Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Technology. Volume 2. CRC Press. Retrieved 2012-07-16. 
  17. North American Air Defense Command Historical Summary (Report).…4665.10015.0.10346.…0.0…1c.1.11.psy-ab.PtW1PnDduyg&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&fp=94c1fca23fa8c111&biw=1600&bih=793. [specify]
  18. 18.0 18.1 Eldredge, Maurice C., Major-ACSC student (April 1985). A Brief History of "ADTAC": The First Five Years (Report). Air Command and Staff College. Retrieved 2012-07-16. "On 21 September 1979, Major General John L. Piotrowski assumed the duty of Tactical Air Command Deputy Commander for Air Defense. (10:xxxi) General Piotrowski and his staff were initially stationed in the Chidlaw Building, Headquarters ADCOM, Colorado Springs, Colorado." 
  21. (also available at Google Books)
  22. Toro, MSgt. Radames; Barrios, MSgt. Ramon A. (1 August 1993--Third Edition). "Chapter 1: Command Overview". Space Operations Orientation Course. Peterson AFB, Colorado: 21st Crew Training Squadron. p. 3. "On October 1, 1979, control of [Peterson AFB] was transferred to the Strategic Air Command." 
  24. A NORAD TIMELINE | HighBeam Business: Arrive Prepared. (2008-05-11). Retrieved on 2013-09-18.
  26. Famed Chidlaw Building falls into foreclosure. (2012-03-07). Retrieved on 2013-09-18.

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).