Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry and New Koffolt Laboratories Celebrates Grand Opening



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Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry Building ("CBEC") and Koffolt Laboratories


It started in 1995 with the idea to renovate old Koffolt Laboratories, which was burgeoning with students and showing definite signs of its 50-plus years of use.

Then-chair L.-S. Fan was discussing the need to renovate and improve the building with alumnus and volunteer William G. Lowrie, who was serving on the chemical engineering advisory board at the time.

Lowrie said to Fan, "L.-S., we're not thinking big enough. We don't need to just renovate this building. We need a whole new building."

Encouraged by Lowrie's vision and belief, the department began the long process of proposals, planning, and budgeting. In 2004, Dr. Stuart Cooper took up the charge when he suceeded Fan as chairman of the chemical engineering department. 

When the initial round of approvals were in place, Lowrie recruited a host of volunteers to form a fundraising committee, and work to raise funds for the building began.

In 2009, the Department received astonishingly good news: Bill Lowrie and his family had decided to commit $17 million to the chemical engineering department, with $11 million designated towards a new building.

Lowrie, who graduated from Ohio State in 1966, was a student during the tenure of Joseph Koffolt, the beloved chemical engineering department chairman (1948-1968). The mentoring and guidance Lowrie received from Koffolt, and also Professor H.C. "Slip" Slider, made a lasting impression on him. In fact, instead of having the building named after himself, it was Lowrie's desire to continue to honor Joe Koffolt and preserve the Koffolt legacy, which means so much to so many of Joe's former students. 

In response, The Ohio State University Board of Trustees decided to name the chemical engineering department the William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

Meanwhile, the Chemistry department was in dire need of new research space. The two disciplines - chemistry and chemical engineering - are often involved in collaborative research, and a natural alliance soon formed. Sharing space in one building would mean greater efficiency and increased research opportunities for both areas and epitomizes the One University Framework.

Today, the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry building is a model of innovation and a catalyst for change that combines two powerhouse disciplines under one roof. Chemical engineering students now have a state-of-the-art learning environment offered within the context of the interdisciplinary "CBEC" building which will enable them to meet today's diverse challenges fully prepared to succeed, and a community of scientists have unprecedented access to one another and to top-flight facilities where some of the world's greatest challenges will be solved. 

The Grand Opening ceremony featured special guests Bill Lowrie, Gary Booth, Congresswoman Beatty, Chancellor Carey, selected students, and university VIPs, including President Drake, and... Brutus!  

In lieu of a traditional ribbon cutting, participants created a chemical reaction which surprised and delighted audience members.


President Drake and Brutus pour chemicals into beakers
President Drake and Brutus pour chemicals into beakers prior to the chemical reaction "ribbon cutting" moment.



chemical reaction "ribbon cutting"