Chemistry Building

Chemistry Building

The new Chemistry and Pharmacy Building was completed in 1909. It was built on the site of the first University Hospital, which incorporated one of the four Professors’ Houses, the first buildings on the campus. Smith, Hinchman and Grylls, of Detroit served as architects.

Chemistry Building

The original Chemical Laboratory, later occupied by the departments of Pharmacology and Economics, was completed in 1856 and gradually expanded until the department moved into new quarters in 1909.

New Chemistry Building

Original Chemical Laboratory (inset at lower right)

Chemistry Building on Ingalls Mall

Chemistry Building on the Diag

An addition to the Chemistry Building, designed by Louis Kingscott and Associates and built by Bryant and Detwiler, was completed in 1949. It was made an integral part of the original structure. The addition had one light court and consists of a basement and four floors; it had approximately the same amount of usable floor space as the original part.

The addition was four stories high with a basement under the new part, and was constructed of buff Bedford limestone and brick in varying shades of light brown. It was fireproof with reinforced concrete columns and floors and hollow brick and cinder-block partitions. It was one of the first buildings on the campus to employ the construction system of regularly spaced concrete piers.

Chemistry Building Addition


In general, the arrangement of the complete building consisted of three long corridors, one on the east and one on the west side of the older part and one on the east side of the new part; these corridors connected the large laboratories occupying the north and south ends of the building.

On the first floor, in addition to an amphitheater with a seating capacity of 290 in the south court of the older part, there were three lecture rooms with seating capacities of 131, 144, and 230, as well as two smaller classrooms. The offices of the College of Pharmacy and the Prescription Laboratory were on the east corridor, and a large introductory pharmacy laboratory was at the southeast corner of the building. The dock for loading and unloading supplies was adjacent to the large receiving and shipping room of the Chemistry Store Department and the offices of the Chemistry Stores Department. The remainder of the first floor was used for work in physical chemistry — offices, research rooms, and four large laboratories including one which was specially equipped for teaching electrochemistry. The dispensing room handles student supplies for physical chemistry and pharmacy. Facilities for electrochemistry, comprising a general laboratory, research rooms, and instructors’ offices, occupied the outside tier of rooms along the west corridor.

On the second floor, were the offices of the Department of Chemistry in the center. The well-equipped library, was at the south end of the older part of the building. It accommodated 108 readers and contained about 15,000 bound volumes. Four large laboratories devoted to organic chemistry occupied the north end of the building, and one large research laboratory for organic chemistry and a large pharmacy laboratory were in the southeast corner. Most of the remaining rooms on the second floor were for members of the staff of the College of Pharmacy, for research in pharmaceutical chemistry, and for faculty and student research in organic chemistry. A departmental glassblower and a dispensing room for supplies for organic chemistry and for quantitative analysis courses and some pharmacy classrooms wrre on this floor.

Six large laboratories on the third floor were for the several courses in analytical chemistry, including qualitative, quantitative, and instrumental analysis; semimicroanalysis was taught in a smaller laboratory. Rooms for analytical balances were adjacent to the laboratories. Also on this floor was a lecture room seating about ninety, a College of Pharmacy laboratory for pharmacognosy, research laboratories for pharmacy, and a room where approximately thirty teaching fellows in chemistry had office space. Four rooms were devoted to studies involving radioactivity — one in which to teach students how to handle and use such materials, one, the “hot-lab,” where experimental work with the more radioactive substances could be performed safely, and two rooms equipped with instruments for measuring the activity. The work of the dispensing room on this floor was directed toward supplying the reagent shelves of the student laboratories in the building.

General chemistry was taught in five large laboratories, qualitative analysis in two, and graduate research students occupied the eighth large laboratory on the fourth floor. A small laboratory was devoted to courses in advanced inorganic chemistry. A number of rooms were assigned to equipment and research work connected with electron diffraction and X-ray studies.

The basement under the east part of the building housed the units which heat the oil-filtered air supplied to the newest part of the structure. Electrical supply rooms and large areas for storage of glass equipment, chemicals, and other supplies handled by Chemistry Stores were also there. The College of Pharmacy had an area in the basement for equipment for the manufacturing pharmacy processes, and the Department of Chemistry also had its shops for the fabrication and repair of research apparatus there. A number of small laboratories in this area were used for research work; these included space for high-pressure equipment, special distilling columns, and other equipment for organic chemistry research. Two of the laboratories were designed for work requiring controlled temperature and humidity conditions. One was refrigerated for work which required low temperatures, and several were lined with copper-coated paper to reduce electrostatic effects.

The main service lines enter through tunnels underneath the building and were distributed by means of accessible riser stacks from which they faned out to the separate rooms. In the new part of the building, the hoods were exhausted by fans in a penthouse. The motors on the exhaust system were two-speed and maintain a continual air flow at all times. Two water stills, one in the older and one in the newer part, furnish distilled water to the building and are connected so that in an emergency either one could supply the whole building.

Leigh C. Anderson (The University of Michigan: An Encyclopedic Survey, p. 1607)