Gilman Hall

Departments housed in Gilman Hall include Materials Science and Engineering and Chemistry.

Building History

Built: 1913; architect, Proudfoot, Bird, & Rawson
Remodeled: 1954, 1956, 1960
Addition: 1964

“Chemistry Hall holds a bit of everything, besides caring for the classes in chemistry” stated the Iowa State student newspaper in 1914. From English classes to bug cages, Chemistry Hall had it all—a bustling university environment engrossed in teaching and research.

In fact, what eventually became Gilman Hall was home to the engineering and science departments, the Agriculture Experiment Station (which housed its poultry department in one section), and the home economics department.

The structure was built as a replacement for the old Chemistry Hall, which burned down in 1913. The new design featured a three-story building with a total of 110,000 square feet. The Iowa State student newspaper duly noted that no other building at that time, with the exception of the state capitol, contained as many square feet of plastered wall.

Along with classrooms, offices, and labs, the building included a large auditorium in the center, storage rooms on each floor connected by an elevator and dumbwaiter, and more than 2,000 lockers to serve the burgeoning number of students taking chemistry.

Two novel construction features distinguished Chemistry Hall. First, a ventilation system drew air from the bottom of the floor rather than the top for better air quality as well as cheaper operation. Second, asphalt floors were installed instead of the conventional concrete floors, with the rationale that the elasticity of asphalt would be easier on students while they stood for long periods to conduct experiments.

The total cost for the building exceeded $350,000. Over the years, Chemistry Hall underwent renovation to modernize classrooms, offices, and labs. In 1965 a major addition took place to expand floor space and facilities. Chemistry Hall became Henry Gilman Hall by action of the Board of Regents in June 1973.