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02/08/2008 08:00:00

Breaking Ground for Schlinger Laboratory

PASADENA, Calif.--Chemists and chemical engineers at the California Institute of Technology can soon start dreaming of experiments for their new labs, to be housed in a building dedicated to their work that will begin to take shape on February 13. The groundbreaking ceremony starts at 11 a.m.

The Warren and Katharine Schlinger Laboratory for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering is the first building specifically designed to house both disciplines under one roof at Caltech, providing laboratories and classroom and conference space.

The four-story building, which will occupy 60,000 square feet, was designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, a Pennsylvania-based architectural firm that has won many awards and built numerous academic and lab structures. The Schlinger Lab, which will likely merit a silver rating under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System for environmentally sustainable buildings, will be constructed at a cost of $45 million and should be finished in 18 months. It will be located near the western end of the San Pasqual walkway on campus.

First-floor labs will focus on atmospheric chemistry and materials. A conference room opening toward the chemical physics building was designed to encourage interactions among students and faculty. The third floor will feature synthetic chemistry with the Center for Catalysis and Chemical Synthesis (3CS), headed by Nobel Laureate Robert Grubbs, and funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The second floor and half of the underground floor will be designated for yet-to-be-appointed faculty.

The Schlinger Lab was named in recognition of a $20 million campaign donation from Warren and Katharine Schlinger, whose roots run deep at Caltech. Warren spent 12 years at the Institute, earning his BS in applied chemistry, then an MS and PhD in chemical engineering, followed by postdoctoral research and teaching. Katharine grew up in the Pasadena area and was a vocal soloist, and met her husband while working as a department secretary for chemical engineering. "The new laboratory will be central to the future of the division, and it's especially fitting that our friends Warren and Katie Schlinger have played the key role in bringing it to life," says David Tirrell, chair of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Caltech.

In response to their generosity, Caltech president Jean-Lou Chameau wrote that the Schlingers' gifts will "make a global impact on the progress of discovery in this field," adding that, "this historic initiative will change the landscape of our campus and amplify our ability to remain at the forefront of scientific research."

In addition to Schlinger and Moore Foundation contributions, gifts have come from an array of supporters, including the estate of former trustee Victor K. Atkins; trustee G. Patricia Beckman (daughter of Mabel and Arnold Beckman, PhD '28); Barbara J. Dickinson (widow of Richard Dickinson '52); The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation; the John Stauffer Charitable Trust; John W. Jones '41; Helen and Will Webster '49; Gregory P. Stone '74; and others. Funds raised to date total $37 million. 

Written by elisabeth nadin