Chemistry Building - Construction
Looking northeast at Chemistry Building as exterior nears completion; newly planted trees in foreground.
Bio/Historical Note: The Department of Chemistry was established in 1910, and in 1912 conducted its first laboratory instruction in a poorly ventilated space in the basement of the College Building. The Chemistry Building opened in 1924 and was one of the last of the original stone collegiate gothic buildings designed by the Montreal architect David Brown. The building was sheathed in greystone and the façade has a castellated roof line and an arched portal. The four-storey building was built to house the colleges of Home Economics and Pharmacy, and the Department of Chemistry. It was the most elaborate of the early campus buildings. Designed specifically to meet the needs of teaching and research in chemistry, it was a far cry from the makeshift laboratories in the basement of the College Building and reflected the confidence of the 1920s. It faced not inward toward the Bowl and the original buildings, but outward to what was expected to be an expanding future. Dubbed by one critic as an “expensive show to make an impressive front,” it was to have a second identical north wing but depression and war brought a halt to all thoughts of capital expansion. The first floor was composed almost entirely of classrooms, with two small laboratories. An auditorium was located on the second floor, with a tile dome rising 68 feet, as well as laboratories featuring acid-proof lining on all fume vents and drains. Storerooms were located in the basement, with a sub-basement containing the ventilation, heating and sewage systems. The Chemistry Building was finally expanded with a second wing and was renamed in honour of Dr. Thorbergur Thorvaldson, professor and dean of Chemistry from 1919-1959. The Thorvaldson Building opened on 6 June 1966.