Doherty Hall, Renovated!-Chemical Engineering - Carnegie Mellon University

Doherty Hall, Renovated!

Doherty Hall has been renovated after years of planning, months of work, and millions of dollars.  The building that came to be known as Doherty Hall was one of the initial buildings erected in 1908 on the campus of the Carnegie Technical Schools.  The university later named it after Robert E. Doherty, third president of the school from 1936 – 1950. The east end of Doherty Hall housed various programs that ultimately coalesced into the current Department of Chemical Engineering. The current renovation is several times larger in scope than a 1985 project and probably the most significant since the front end of Doherty Hall was added in the 50's. The work will update the building to the standards of modern teaching and research facilities, not to mention current code. Furthermore, the renovation reverses the diaspora of chemical engineering faculty who moved to other facilities over the past few years. We welcome several faculty members back from the Pittsburgh Technology Center and Roberts Hall.

The planning for the current renovation of Doherty Hall began in early 2003 and construction began in early 2007 to be completed by the end of 2008.   Two events made it possible.  One was the renovation of the west end of Doherty Hall to house the undergraduate science teaching laboratories, which opened three floors of the north wing of Doherty Hall.  The second event was the donation to Carnegie Mellon by Mr. Bill Gates of funds for the construction of the Gates Building for computer science. 

The renovation creates five floors of modern research labs for the five research areas of the department: Process Systems Engineering, Complex Fluids Engineering, Bioengineering, Solid State Materials, and Envirochemical Engineering.  The Solid State Laboratory was completed in February 2008 and has been in active use since March 2008.  The Bioengineering and Complex Fluids Engineering labs were completed at the end of the summer 2008 and the Process Systems Engineering and Envirochemical Engineering spaces are due for completion by the end of the fall semester 2008.

The new research spaces embody a modern philosophy toward academic research; the large laboratories are shared among the faculty members of the five research areas.  The pictures appearing on the cover of this Newsletter and accompanying this article tell the tale. In most, if not all universities, research labs are assigned to individual faculty members for use solely by students and postdocs in their research groups.  Our shared laboratory philosophy promotes collaboration as students from different groups literally work side-by-side. Safety is enhanced because students will rarely be alone in a laboratory.  The new format for research laboratories allows much more efficient use of space and much greater flexibility in changing space utilization and space assignment.

The investment by Carnegie Mellon University in the renovation of Doherty Hall was $27 million dollars.  We owe many thanks to President Cohon, Provost Kamlet and the Carnegie Mellon Trustees for their support of the project.  Equally, we appreciate the many donations toward the project and in particular the generosity of Mr. Tom McConomy and Mr. Kears Pollock.  Finally, the staff and faculty, particularly Andy Gellman, who devoted significant fractions of their time over the past five years to ensuring the success of this enormous project, deserve accolades for their efforts.  Moving into a new research facility is exciting; the impact of this project on the Department of Chemical Engineering will be felt for decades.