East Engineering Building

East Engineering Building

In the fall of 1941, just prior to World War II, the College of Engineering was thought to have reached its enrollment capacity at 2,070. Yet as the war ended and veteran students returned, the College’s enrollment had grown to over 4,500 in 1947, including 2,967 veterans. The dilemma facing the College was familiar: Either reduce enrollments or build new facilities.

In April, 1920, the Regents received a communication from Dean Mortimer Cooley “dealing with … the presumptive need for additional space and equipment” (R.P., 1917-20, p. 915). The following November they agreed, in accordance with their building program, to go ahead with construction of engineering shops and laboratories, which would require an appropriation of $750,000. To prevent confusion it was decided that the new structure would be named the East Engineering Building and the older engineering building on the southeast corner of the campus would be designated the West Engineering Building. Although the East Engineering Building was originally envisioned as a monumental structure, designed to meet the needs of the College for decades to come, the final plans were far less ambitious.

Original Schematic Drawing for East Engineering

The first section of the East Engineering Building
East Hall (left), Firehouse (center), East Engineering (right)

East Engineering was located on East University Avenue south of East Hall (the old Tappan School). The building was shaped in general like a “U,” with a front of 190 feet on East University Avenue and two wings, separated by a court, each 223 feet in length, running back to Church Street. In plan it followed the unit construction of the later buildings on the campus with regularly spaced reinforced concrete piers, affording a maximum of light and space. The building had four floors, with a full-height basement under each wing and a storage basement under the front section. It contained 177 rooms and had a gross floor area of 167,800 square feet. The new building was ready for use at the beginning of the 1923-24 school year.

The architects were Smith, Hinchman and Grylls, and the contractor was H. G. Christman. The building was constructed for $639,190. It was built of brick and stone with an ornamental terra-cotta and brick cornice.

In general, the departments which had been housed in the old Engineering Shops and the rapidly developing branches of chemical and metallurgical engineering, transportation engineering, aeronautical engineering, metal processing, and engineering research found new and adequate quarters in the new structure, occupying sections of the building through several floors. Such grouping of the various branches of engineering permitted practical co-operation among the departments.

The East Engineering Building included eleven recitation rooms, fifty-seven laboratories, thirty-one offices, seven shops, three drafting rooms, two libraries, and five locker rooms. The largest single room, the foundry, had an area of 6,193 square feet. In addition to these rooms, a darkroom, a museum, and storage rooms were also provided. The upper floors of the north wing were occupied by the general Chemical Engineering Laboratory, special laboratories for gas, oil, and fuel analysis and smaller rooms for special research problems in such fields as paints, textiles, and electrochemistry. Extending from the basement to the third floor was the Swenson Evaporator Laboratory. The remainder of this wing was devoted to transportation engineering, general classrooms, offices, the Transportation Library on the first floor, and laboratories in the basement.

In the south wing, the upper floors accommodate the various Production Engineering laboratories, with special rooms for heat treatment of metals and for electric furnaces. The basement of this wing contained a wind tunnel used for experimental work in aeronautical engineering, in addition to offices and a drawing room.

Foundry (looking east)

East Engineering Building Addition

East Engineering Building Addition

The East Engineering addition opened in 1947 to house the Departments of Electrical Engineering and Aeronautical Engineering, while Naval Architecture and Civil Engineering took over the vacated space in West Engineering. More specifically, Aeronautical Engineering occupied the entire first floor of the new wing, while Electrical Engineering occupied most of the remainder of the floors, with both departments sharing space in the basement and fourth floor. Among the modern facilities made available to the Department of Aeronautical Engineering were instrumentation, dynamics, and propulsion laboratories. On the top floor of the new addition was also an aerodynamics laboratory which housed a small wind tunnel, a smoke tunnel, and an axial flow blower. In the basement of the building the Department of Electrical Engineering occupied three alternating current and two direct current laboratories, in addition to one dynamometer and one photometric laboratory, an instrument room, dark room and store room. On the second floor was a control room and laboratories for industrial heating, rectifier, heat transfer, small motors and servomechanisms. Third floor facilities included office space, a computing room and laboratories for insulation, radio, instrumentation, measurements, calibration, magnetons, and microwave tubes. On the top floor was additional office space, an instrumentation room, a shielded room and more laboratories for electronics, high frequency, ultra high frequency, telephone and telegraph, radar, microwave and electron tubes. The cost of the addition was $1,545,000.
East Engineering Addition (right)
East Engineering Addition Classrooms

Mortimer E. Cooley, George Granger Brown (The University of Michigan: An Encyclopedic Survey p. 1615)