A History of Science Facilities at Carleton

By Jevon Robinson ’22

Williams Hall  

The first science building constructed on Carleton’s campus was Williams Hall. It was constructed during the same year that Willis Hall was rebuilt after the fire in 1880. The completion of this facility provided the space necessary for the growing institution as well as security in case of another fire. The building was named in honor of William Williams, the son of Dr. Edwin H. Williams, a physician turned railroad executive. This building housed several academic departments, the library, and art collections until the construction of new facilities starting in 1896. The building once stood in the main quadrangle, directly in front of Leighton Hall. Setting the precedent for future science buildings at Carleton, this building was repurposed after the science departments relocated to newer facilities. It was demolished in 1961 due to its unpopularity amongst both faculty and students.  

Laird Hall of Science 

Laird Hall was constructed in 1905 by Bertrand and Chamberlin. It was the sixth structure constructed by the college and was a gift from William H. Laird, a former president of the Board of Trustees. Laird housed science departments such as Biology, Geology, and Physics for several years. This building was one of the first fireproof structures the College built. The structure is made from Menomonie sand-brick and reinforced concrete; its decorative trim is made from sandstone from Lake Superior and Bedford stone. Throughout the years, the building was renovated to accommodate the needs of the science departments it housed in addition to the student body at large. These alterations included a greenhouse for the Biology Department and an annex that held the only computer lab for student use on campus. Following in the path of its predecessor, Laird was eventually repurposed to hold other academic departments after the construction of Olin Hall.  

Leighton Hall of Chemistry 

Leighton Hall of Chemistry was constructed in 1920 by Patton, Holmes, and Flynn. It was originally constructed for use by the Chemistry and Geology Departments. This building was constructed under the leadership of President Donald J. Cowling, who led the school for over 36 years and was able to complete significant capital projects. The design of this building is a part of a larger master plan establishing two quadrangles with buildings in the Collegiate Gothic architectural style. Nonetheless, Leighton Hall provided the space necessary for the growth of both the Chemistry and Geology Departments, housing them until the construction of Mudd Hall in 1975. Today, this building houses various humanities departments as well as administrative offices on its ground level. 

Olin Hall 

Olin Hall of Science was constructed in 1961 by Minoru Yamasaki. This building housed Biology and Physics. This building was constructed in the modern architectural style. Yamasaki, a renowned architect, demonstrated several elements of modern architecture in this building. Olin’s structure is wrapped in an  ornamental facade made of thin white arches. He was widely criticized for this move as it did not subscribe to the principles of modern architecture. Today, the building still houses the Physics Department in addition to several other science departments. Recent renovations have connected Olin Hall to other science buildings, forming what is known as the Integrated Science Complex. 

Mudd Hall 

Mudd Hall of Science was constructed in 1976 by SMSQ Architects of Northfield as the new home of the Chemistry and Geology Departments. Flexibility was the main design priority during the construction of this building. The space was designed to  encourage students to move easily throughout the building. This building contained a glass walkway to Olin Hall, which at the time housed biology and physics. the construction of this facility came with significant  improvements for Chemistry and Geology workspaces. The brick building contained labs, a central stockroom, cold storage, and a workroom for the geology department. The structure was demolished in 2017. Although the building was designed for flexibility, renovating the building to fit the new needs of both Chemistry and Geology would be extremely difficult due to budget concerns and restricted ceiling height. Anderson Hall was constructed in the approximate location of Mudd Hall and houses the same departments. 

Center for Math and Computing 

The CMC was constructed in 1993 by Cambridge Seven Associates. At the time of its construction, this building housed the Math, Statistics, and Computer Science departments. This contemporary building was constructed at the same time as the extension of Boliou Art Hall. The purpose of this structure remains largely  unchanged and continues to be used for math and computing purposes. A key feature of this building is its Math Resource Center, where students can receive assistance with various mathematical problems. Additionally, the CMC remains the home of IT Services at Carleton. 

Hulings Hall  

Hulings Hall was constructed in 1995 for use by the Biology Department. The construction of this building represents one of the earliest pushes to create an integrative teaching and research facility at Carleton. The building provided contemporary laboratory facilities that enabled faculty and students to be well-prepared for the advancing field of biology. The architects designed this building to foster inter-disciplinary exchanges. At the center of the building is an atrium to foster a sense of community and encourage dialogues. The central atrium was designed to be the formal and social heart of the building, providing a “sense of openness and collegiality.” Prior to the  construction of Anderson Hall this space was frequently used as an art gallery in order to bring the arts and the sciences close together. 

Anderson Hall and the Integrated Science Facility  

Following the demolition of Mudd Hall, a new facility was constructed. The new building was named in honor of Carleton alumna and biochemist Evelyn Anderson. The Integrated Science Facility connects Olin, Hulings, and Anderson Hall using an atrium, similar to Hulings Hall. The central atrium connects all three buildings through a plethora of staircases and ramps. Additionally, it houses multiple workspaces for students of the many disciplines housed under the same roof, carrying forward a design priority of Mudd Hall. The building also features multiple amenities, such as a café and the Class of 1969 Makerspace. Additionally, this contemporary building centers sustainability and climate change by utilizing the LEED standards. The Integrated Science Facility also includes the East Energy Station in its sub-basement. This station houses the pumps for the geothermal wells that are located all over campus.