For the building team, the design of library, archives and museum facilities brings with it special responsibilities. Archive and conservation facilities require the highest levels of preservation and maintenance of the building environment. Understanding how to maintain and preserve vulnerable materials is a key component to developing a successful design solution. Separation of clean and dirty processes, indoor air quality, control of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and other potentially damaging chemicals, storage methodology and equipment, building envelope issues, integrated fire and safety concerns, and ultra-violet light are all also significant issues which challenge the design team. This paper will compare and contrast an overview of the design solutions of two facilities; one a renovation, the other new construction. It compares the renovation of USDAs National Agricultural Library special collections storage (NAL), using a buffer zone solution to achieve 50% relative humidity to the National Museum of the American Indians (NMAI) Cultural Resources Center, where the program required the entire facility to provide 50 % relative humidity, necessitating the construction of a sophisticated building envelope. Rare book, archives, and museum facilities require the highest levels of development and maintenance of specialized, controlled environments. The following article focuses on these issues, specifically at NAL and NMAI, and provides an overview of two diverse, innovative solutions to resolve the needs of special collections and museum storage space.