Contracts for the construction of a large computation center to be leased to the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory will be signed by the University within the next two weeks, Arthur D. Trottenberg '48, Manager of Operating Services, confirmed yesterday.
Reliable sources at Smithsonian indicated that the project on Observatory Hill will be financed by the Program for Harvard College. The building will remain the property of the University, and will be rented completely or in part to Smithsonian, a private company held in trust by the United States Congress.
Preliminary plans call for a 40,000 square foot building near the Harvard College Observatory. In addition to complete office and laboratory space, the project would house a new high-speed IBM 709 digital computer, a faster model than the one now used by Smithsonian to track earth satellites.
The tentative date for the completion of the building is eighteen months to two years, Trottenberg said. In the interim period Smithsonian scientists will probably occupy quarters at the IBM building on Cambridge Street, one spokesman said.
When these new facilities are ready, Smithsonian personnel will move from their present headquarters at Kittredge Hall and at 51 Garden St. The reason for such expansion is due partly to the growing satellite program and partly to a number of new projects, as yet undisclosed.
Ever since the Russian satellite caught the scientists partly unprepared with organizational details and programming plans for the computers, matters have been quite confused and decentralized.