Sunday, September 12, 2010

Kent Chemical Laboratory at the University of Chicago

Bleary eyed, I would pack my books and papers for the day and leave Burton-Judson Courts to brave the wind gusting down the Midway Plaisance, then hustle through the Classics archway, past Bond Chapel, and across the main quad to Kent, pass through its heavy doors and on to its great octagonal lecture hall, for my first class of the day, early morning chemistry. And from an upper floor lab, as an overawed fresh undergraduate, I could wander down the hall and cross into its neighbor Jones Laboratory, and peer into the very small memorialized room where a weighable amount of plutonium was first isolated, a few months before man’s first controlled nuclear reaction was engineered in a squash court a block away.

Apparently I hadn’t had enough, for I returned the following year for an early morning class in organic chemistry, but, relievedly, from a room not so far away.

Kent Chemical Laboratory was designed by the University of Chicago’s first architect, Henry Ives Cobb, in his Chicago Gothic style and built of Indiana limestone in 1894. It anchors the north side of the main quad, alongside its close cousin Ryerson Physical Laboratory. Chicago Gothic doesn't get any better than these two.

Richard Balsamo

Related Post:
Ryerson Physical Laboratory – “The Most Beautiful University Building in the World”