The Santa Fe New Mexican of Nov. 30, 1929, announced that five architects had been invited “to submit designs for the buildings of the Laboratory of Anthropology to be erected near Sunmount.” Besides John Gaw Meem, they were Templeton Johnson of San Diego, Fisher and Fisher of Denver, Cram and Ferguson of Boston, and William Penhallow Henderson of Santa Fe.
Meem won the competition of the Rockefeller Foundation to design the Laboratory of Anthropology. An early nickname for the building was “the Rockefeller Laboratory.”
On Nov. 11, 1930, the newspaper reported that the $200,000 Laboratory was to be finished by Christmas. The article addressed the contractor’s challenge of molding the building’s materials — hollow tile, brick, concrete, and steel — “into the flowing and irregular lines required by the Santa Fe style of architecture, Pueblo Indian modified by Spanish influence. The building will be an interesting demonstration of how this architectural effect can be achieved with material other than adobe but which will perfectly counterfeit, when finished, the sun-dried and mud-plastered bricks of the country.”
On May 15 of the following year, The New Mexican published the building permit for the planned residence northeast of the Laboratory building: “Ed Lembke and Co., director’s residence Museum of Anthropology, size 50 by 102, 11 rooms, basement, tile and brick, to cost $35,000. Steam heat.”