"The biggest embarrassment has been Black Mesa facility, but I think that's finally taken care of itself."
The Black Mesa Research Facility, or B.M.R.F. for short, is the headquarters of the Black Mesa corporation. Their chief rival in teleportation technology is Aperture Laboratories. Built in the 1950's, the base was refurbished by Black Mesa sometime before "The Incident." It is located in the New Mexico desert, USA. A very secretive location, little is known about it. Here is everything we know about it:
- 1 Overview
- 2 Personnel
- 3 The Black Mesa Incident
- 4 Hazards
- 5 Facilities
- 5.1 Main Sectors
- 5.2 Other areas
- 5.2.1 Advanced Biological Research Lab
- 5.2.2 Alien Quarantine Labs
- 5.2.3 Area 2 Administration Offices
- 5.2.4 Area 7 Recreational Facilities
- 5.2.5 Area 8 Topside Dormitories
- 5.2.6 Area 9
- 5.2.7 Biological Waste Processing Plant
- 5.2.8 Black Mesa Air Control
- 5.2.9 Level 1 Main Facility Entrance
- 5.2.10 Level 3
- 5.2.11 Medical Lab
- 5.2.12 Section A-17 Prototype Labs
- 5.2.13 Topside Motorpool
- 5.2.14 Waste Processing Area 3
- The Black Mesa facility was apparently built over several decommissioned ICBM launching and testing silo complexes probably constructed during the 1950s, which was converted into a vast civilian institute for the research of almost every conceivable scientific discipline. Several files contain the word "fifties", suggesting the facility is as old as from the 1950s. Some areas are also described by characters such as Rosenberg as "old" or "abandoned"; several areas of the complex are badly run-down despite the obvious fact that they are still in use. However the surface areas of Black Mesa feature more modern construction.
- Black Mesa undertakes its various scientific researches in the facility, which is a very high-security complex, as each employee is required to undergo a series of rigorous security checks to access most areas. Security guards, carrying firearms and trained for emergencies, are present everywhere. The complex is also equipped with retinal scanners and alarms, as well as heavy blast doors that may shut down in case of fire, explosion or other event. Black Mesa can be completely sealed from the outside.
- The facility is apparently self-sufficient, housing its own ventilation, plumbing, sewage, and power generation systems including a Hydro-Electric Dam and multiple types of electrical generators and reactors, some using nuclear technology.
- The complex is dominated by a bewildering number of underground laboratories, test areas (including a powerful Anti-Mass Spectrometer), and administration offices, most of which contain very high-tech equipment, and even a rocket launch site.
- The complex also features multi-story car parks (where only Black Mesa SUVs can be found), arsenals of nuclear and conventional weapons, and a local electric rail materials transport network, Sector E Materials Transport.
- Black Mesa is also apparently kept supplied by a conventional freight rail linked to the outside, managed in the Freight Yard.
- As employees are required to live in the complex itself, Black Mesa contains many personnel facilities, including laundromats, recreation and sports areas such as lounges, at least one basketball court, at least one swimming pool, a library, fast food outlets, food courts, cafeterias, and numerous vending machines.
- The facility is well-populated by rest areas and dormitories for the employees of the facility. As Eli Vance reveals that his wife and daughter lived in Black Mesa with him, it can be inferred that employees' families reside in the dormitory complexes as well.
- All main Sectors are linked together by the Black Mesa Transit System, the monorail network going through the whole facility.
- Black Mesa is equipped by a public address system, the Black Mesa Announcement System, relaying audible messages and announcements across the facility with a male voice. It is also used in the Black Mesa Transit System to give general information about the facility and mention each stop, with a female voice.
- The complex also has its own newspaper, The Mesa Times, although it is unknown if it is an outside publication or exclusively made by the company for its personnel.
- Despite being located in the middle of a desert, the underground and indoor sectors of Black Mesa are "maintained at a pleasant 68° Fahrenheit (20° Celsius) at all times", enabled by Black Mesa's sprawling network of ventilation ducts.
- In the underground laboratories, administration offices and dormitories, the main sections are always indicated in important intersections areas, and follow color codes consisting of lines running along the corridors to the related location. Several colors can be seen running along corridors, disappearing each time a related location is reached. This is seen for instance in Sector C and the Level 3 Dormitories.
- Overall, Black Mesa is almost as large as a city and is completely self-sustainable in all fields.
- In the event of an emergency, the "military" and "trained assassins", referred to as "a dangerous and very efficient clean-up crew" are to enter the facility. This suggests that Black Mesa has experienced problems with escaped specimens in the past and that a possible intervention from the HECU and the Black Ops is a known fact among the personnel, although some employees consider it a rumor. Possibly to deal with potential escaped specimens, or perhaps being a leftover from the facility's days as a military missile complex, Black Mesa contains many automated ceiling turrets, which, when activated, will emerge from armored cupolas and fire upon any moving object in their line of sight.
Black Mesa employs in its facility two main groups of civilian employees: a science personnel and a security personnel, along with various other inhabitants including administrative personnel, service personnel and occasionally the employees' families.
The Black Mesa Incident
Occurring on December 5th, 2000, the Black Mesa Incident is caused directly by a failed experiment in Sector C, triggering a Resonance Cascade. This leads to the invasion of the facility by Xen creatures and to severe damage, and finally its complete destruction by a thermonuclear bomb.
The Black Mesa Research Facility, being a science research facility, presents numerous hazards to both health and safety. These can include:
- Electrical hazards, from electrical apparatus and power systems;
- Burning / heat hazards, from steam pipes, furnaces or any other hot apparatus;
- Freezing hazards, from freezers and super coolants;
- Acid / corrosive hazards, from countless acid and alkali chemicals in all different applications;
- Radioactive hazards, from nuclear reactors and waste;
- Biohazards, from biological waste and residue;
- A risk of drowning in extremely deep water basins
- Being harmed / killed by underwater machinery
- A risk of fractures from falling, and / or machinery
Due to so many possible hazards being present in various applications all throughout Black Mesa, precautions must be taken. Certain areas call for the use of safety equipment, others will only allow entry when wearing an HEV Suit, a clean suit or an armor vest and helmet. This point is backed up by security guards stationed at 'secure access' doors being instructed to only permit access if the entrant is wearing proper equipment.
Black Mesa also features an enormous supply of medical facilities and equipment. There are wall-mounted first aid stations, supplies of portable first aid satchels and infirmary areas. Many scientists are also trained in first aid.
The various Black Mesa facilities are loosely grouped into seven Sectors (although many areas visited have no known Sector; it is actually unknown if every single area has to belong to a Sector), as well as various Areas and Levels, all linked together by the Black Mesa Transit System or Sector E Materials Transport. Each sector has a letter ranging from A to G, and bears the name of its main facility. Thus Sector E Biodome Complex does not have only alien study labs, and Sector D Administration does not have only administrative offices.
The details about all the Black Mesa area names are given in signs found within the maps, character dialogs, Black Mesa Announcement System announcements and instruction manuals. Each sentence has a map name before it, allowing a clear identification of the related area.
As many names and details appear in the Gearbox expansions, it is unknown exactly what the Gearbox team came up with, and what was handed to them by Valve. Regardless, the facility is not consistent with all sectors and areas fitting perfectly together (this is far from being the case).
Sector A Training Facility
Sector A contains the separate Hazard Courses used for training scientists (predominantly to the use of the HEV Suit) and security guards.
The Map name is "Hazard Course"
Sector B Coolant Reserve
The Coolant Reserve apparently stores the industrial coolant used to maintain Black Mesa's thousands of computers and machines. It is first seen by Gordon Freeman when he escapes from Sector C.
Sector C Test Labs
Sector C is notable primarily for housing the Anomalous Materials Laboratories, Gordon Freeman's workplace. This area contains the Anti-Mass Spectrometer (in Test Lab C-33/a), the initial source of the Black Mesa Incident.
Sector D Administration
Seen early, Sector D is mainly a large underground complex of Administration Offices where the bureaucratic aspects of Black Mesa's upkeep take place, along with some limited research. It also contains some limited cafeteria facilities, as well as a very large walk-in freezer.
Sector E Biodome Complex
The Sector takes its name from the Biodome Complex, a relatively recent area of the facility, containing a series of Specimen Observation Areas, where captured Xen aliens and flora are kept and observed in artificial recreations of their natural habitats. Sector E also features the large Sector E Materials Transport, Black Mesa's freight monorail, the High Altitude Launch Center, where rockets are launched, as well as a large Ordinance Storage Facility where the Mark IV Thermonuclear Device is set up and Gene Worm teleports in.
Sector F Lambda Complex
The heavily fortified Lambda Reactor Complex is the site of Black Mesa's top secret teleportation labs. It features a huge reactor consisting of the Lambda Reactor Coolant System, and the cylindrical Lambda Reactor Core, as well as a large teleport.
Sector G Hydro Electric
Sector G mostly provides the power for the facility. It features the Topside Hydro Plant and its iconic Hydro-Electric Dam, and the Drainage Canals.
The following areas are either not linked to a specific sector, or their specific sector is unknown.
Advanced Biological Research Lab
Located near Sector G's Hydro-Electric Dam and partially above the Biological Waste Processing Plant, the Advanced Biological Research Lab is where the Tau Cannon is found.
Alien Quarantine Labs
Located under the Gamma Labs, aliens brought with the Displacement Beacon Focus Emitter are studied there. Cross and Green are sent there by Keller to turn on a beam matrix to power the Displacement Beacon Focus Emitter on the surface.
Area 2 Administration Offices
Area 7 Recreational Facilities
Whilst not seen, a Black Mesa Transit System map featured in Blue Shift mentions Area 7. As Black Mesa's employees are required to live in the facility itself, Area 7 may contains comforts and diversions such as sporting areas, cafeterias, a cinema, shops and other personnel facilities. It is connected to the Green Line of the Black Mesa Transit System.
Area 8 Topside Dormitories
Located within Sector B Coolant Reserve, on both parts of the Sector B Line of the Black Mesa Transit System, this area consists of outdoor dormitories where Barney Calhoun is accommodated while working at Black Mesa.
Features Area 9 Central Transit Hub, Area 9 Security Checkpoint, and parts of Sector B Line.
Biological Waste Processing Plant
The Biological Waste Processing Plant disposes of and processes Black Mesa's wastes through large tanks and an endless conveyor belt network.
Black Mesa Air Control
This building is adjacent a large airstrip, and is used to monitor and direct activity in the airspace above Black Mesa.
Level 1 Main Facility Entrance
Never physically and only seen on a Black Mesa Transit System map, the name of that area heavily implies that it is used as a central entrance checkpoint for all the facility personnel, and that it may be the entrance to Black Mesa. It is connected to the Green Line of the Black Mesa Transit System.
As heard during Freeman's tram ride from Level 3 Dormitories on the day of the Black Mesa Incident, the Black Mesa Hazard Course Decathlon was to start on Level 3 around 19:00. This never happened due to the incident.
Level 3 Dormitories
Located within Sector C Test Labs, along the Sector C Line of the Black Mesa Transit System, this area is one of the only two personnel dormitories seen or mentioned, the other being Area 8 Topside Dormitories. This is where Gordon Freeman lives while working at Black Mesa, and where Gina Cross and Colette Green search for a security guard who would have the clearance codes to lift the military air traffic lockdown.
After his Osprey is taken down by Alien Aircrafts, Adrian Shephard wakes up in a damaged Black Mesa infirmary, in an area that appears to still be under the control of Black Mesa personnel, who are caring for wounded HECU soldiers and studying Headcrabs.
Section A-17 Prototype Labs
A very old sector of Black Mesa, these labs are located below the Freight Yard. There Black Mesa's first teleportation experiments took place.
This area features the bulk of Black Mesa's still-functional military facilities, as well as maintenance and storage areas for the Black Mesa SUVs.
Waste Processing Area 3
In a surface section of Waste Processing Area 3 can be found a Tactical Map originally manned by Cooper, a now dead HECU soldier, and used by Gordon Freeman to defeat the chasing Gargantua and clear the way ahead, leading to the Sector F. Another part of Waste Processing Area 3 connected to Sector E Biodome Complex is where the Pit Worm is found.