National Landmark Status

National Landmark StatusNational Landmark StatusNational Landmark StatusNational Landmark StatusThe Dark Knight Rises

City Hall fight scene from "The Dark Knight Rises," filmed on the steps of CMU's Mellon Institute

Many people know Carnegie Mellon University's Mellon Institute as the monolithic, columned building on Fifth Avenue, home to the Dean's Office for the Mellon College of Science, the departments of Biological Sciences and Chemistry, and numerous research labs. Movie-goers may recognize it as City Hall in "The Dark Knight Rises," as pivotal scenes from the third Batman installment were filmed there.

But there's much more to the Mellon Institute than the 75-year-old fortress that bears its name.

Founded in 1913 as a facility to create ties between science and industry, the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research has a rich history of innovation. Researchers at the institute developed a wide range of products, including cellulose hot dog casings, World War I gas masks and synthetic rubber and other work that launched the petrochemical industry and led to the founding of prominent companies including Dow Corning and Union Carbide corporations.

Four researchers associated with the Mellon Institute have been awarded Nobel Prizes.

For the many accomplishments achieved there, the American Chemical Society (ACS) designated the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research as a National Historic Chemical Landmark.

"The Mellon Institute was a workhorse of industrial research and training in America," said Tom Barton, president-elect of the ACS. "Mellon Institute fellows were both scientists and innovators, an altogether too-rare combination. Through the results of their pioneering research, American industry became further sold on the practical benefits of science to develop new products, grow companies and solve essential problems. This produced an industrial dominance for the U.S., and its continuation will undoubtedly be the source of our bright economic future."

Originally housed on the University of Pittsburgh's campus, the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research moved into the columned Mellon Institute building in 1937, at the intersection of Fifth and Bellefield avenues in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh. The Mellon Institute merged with Carnegie Tech in 1967 to form CMU.

"Connecting academia with industry is as important today as it was when the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research was founded 100 years ago," said Mark Kamlet, CMU provost and executive vice president.

"At Carnegie Mellon, we are committed to building on the institute's legacy by promoting a culture of scientific innovation and entrepreneurship."

ACS established the National Historic Chemical Landmarks program in 1992 to recognize seminal events in the history of chemistry and to increase awareness of the contributions of chemistry to the well-being of society.

Historical photos, top to bottom:

  • A new procedure is being worked out to simulate engine operating conditions in an automotive service (A. N. Jones)
  • Future Nobel Laureate (2003, chemistry) Paul Lauterbur peering into the high-resolution nuclear magnetic resonance spectra of silicon compounds.
  • Fellows of the Mellon Institute, University of Pittsburgh, in front of the original laboratory on University of Pittsburgh's campus

Photo credit for movie image: A scene from Warner Bros. Pictures' and Legendary Pictures' action thriller "The Dark Knight Rises" a Warner Bros. Pictures release. TM & © DC Comics.

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