The focal point of the new chemistry building is the 75-foot-high atrium, called Taylor Commons. Research labs on the left are connected by 27-foot-long pedestrian bridges to offices on the right.
The focal point of the new chemistry building is the 75-foot-high atrium, called Taylor Commons. Research labs on the left are connected by 27-foot-long pedestrian bridges to offices on the right.
Denise Applewhite/Office of Communications
One of two open stairways rises toward the roof, where some of the photovoltaic ­panels are visible.
One of two open stairways rises toward the roof, where some of the photovoltaic ­panels are visible.
Denise Applewhite/Office of Communications
At the north and south ends of the building, a 77-foot braced ­column that resembles a ship’s mast ­supports the canopy roof.
At the north and south ends of the building, a 77-foot braced ­column that resembles a ship’s mast ­supports the canopy roof.
Denise Applewhite/Office of Communications
Solar panels on the roof can be seen in this view from the atrium.
Solar panels on the roof can be seen in this view from the atrium.
One of the high-efficiency fume hoods in the research labs.
One of the high-efficiency fume hoods in the research labs.

The first occupants have moved into the new Frick Chemistry Lab, a four-story structure with a soaring atrium described by University Architect Ron McCoy *80 as a “remarkable glass loft.”

Glass and aluminum framing mark the exterior of the building, and glass covers much of the interior façade. The east wing contains teaching and research labs, while the west wing includes faculty and administrative offices and conference rooms.  

Separating the two wings is a central atrium 27 feet wide and 75 feet high, which McCoy called the “most stunning interior space on campus since the Chapel — in terms of its size, the kind of grandeur of it.”  

Two open, curved stairwells with glass railings descend to the terrazzo tile floor, while a series of translucent oval shapes are suspended from the ceiling. Called “Resonance,” the shapes resemble clouds and are the work of artist Kendall Buster of Richmond, Va.

At 265,000 square feet, the lab is the largest academic building on campus aside from Firestone Library. It will house 30 faculty, 30 departmental staff, and 250 to 300 graduate students, postdocs, and research staff. Teaching facilities can accommodate several hundred undergraduates.

The chemistry department will continue its move through the fall from the former Frick Lab (built in 1929) and Hoyt Lab (1979). “Old Frick” is renamed 20 Washington Road.

Chemistry labs are high-energy consumers because the air used in lab space must be discharged directly to the outside. Frick Lab ­contains a number of energy-efficient features:

• Providing shade for the glass roof are 216 photovoltaic panels that generate power.

• High-efficiency fume hoods with automatic sash closers reduce air-supply requirements; heat-recovery systems capture energy from the lab’s exhaust.

• Offices are heated by individual radiators and cooled by ceiling-mounted chilled beams.

• Cast-aluminum sunscreens shade exterior walls.

A view across the newly opened Streicker Bridge toward Frick Chemistry Lab. The building was designed by Hopkins Architects of London in collaboration with Payette Associates of Boston.
A view across the newly opened Streicker Bridge toward Frick Chemistry Lab. The building was designed by Hopkins Architects of London in collaboration with Payette Associates of Boston.
Denise Applewhite/Office of Communications
The multiple cloth-covered forms of “Resonance,” a sculpture by ­Virginia artist Kendall Buster, were inspired by models of molecular structures.
The multiple cloth-covered forms of “Resonance,” a sculpture by ­Virginia artist Kendall Buster, were inspired by models of molecular structures.
Denise Applewhite/Office of Communications
The Edward C. Taylor auditorium has seating for 260 in the basement of Frick Lab.
The Edward C. Taylor auditorium has seating for 260 in the basement of Frick Lab.
Denise Applewhite
A senior-faculty office reflects modern styling; sliding-glass doors open onto an exterior ­“balconette.”
A senior-faculty office reflects modern styling; sliding-glass doors open onto an exterior ­“balconette.”
Denise Applewhite