Field Guide to Mudd Hall

28 February 2017

By the mid-1970s, the chemistry and geology departments had outgrown the increasingly overcrowded and obsolete Leighton Hall of Chemistry. Mudd Hall of Science opened in 1975 to house the two departments, plus one of the campus’s few computer rooms and an interdisciplinary science library stocked with 8,700 technical books.

Mudd was designed with two primary goals: to provide flexibility for growth and change, and to conserve energy by utilizing an efficient physical shape, heat recovery systems, and large windows intended to capture solar heat. Ironically, it is the conflict between these two goals that has sealed Mudd’s fate.

The energy-efficient design features ceilings that are now considered too low for science buildings—there’s no room for the robust ventilation systems that modern laboratories require. What’s more, the cast concrete structure makes renovation difficult and costly. And so, after months of exploring unsightly and impractical renovation options, administrators and faculty members decided to demolish Mudd and replace it with a new building that can meet departmental needs decades into the future. Before it disappears at the end of this academic year, we pay tribute to a building where countless Carleton students have discovered the joys of scientific exploration. 

Photos by John Noltner