Chandler Chemistry Laboratory
Chandler Chemistry Laboratory at Lehigh University, which created the model of modern chemical education, opened in 1884.
Some artifacts are historically significant because they are the best of their particular category; others are important for being the first of their type. The William H. Chandler Chemistry Building at Lehigh University is a remarkable example of the latter. The architectural innovations embodied in the Chandler Laboratory created the model of modern chemical education. The structure and its uses revolutionized chemical training in the 1880s and 1890s and defined the laboratory experience for students throughout the twentieth century. The Chandler Laboratory created a new paradigm, enabling chemical educators to see and do things in new ways.
William H. Chandler, a keen observer of these trends, had been called in 1871 to chair the chemistry department at Lehigh University. He realized that to replicate the German model of a technical university, custom facilities would be needed. Chandler knew that to teach laboratory techniques to larger numbers of students, to conduct advanced research and to prepare graduates to serve the industrial world, a new chemistry building would be needed with larger laboratories than traditional designs allowed. With the help of architect Addison Hutton of Philadelphia, he designed and oversaw the construction in 1884 of the laboratory which later bore his name. It initially housed the chemistry, geology, and metallurgy departments at Lehigh University. From the very beginning, graduate research students occupied its facilities and from 1891 it became the research site of Lehigh’s doctoral students.
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Excerpted with permission, National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program