State-of-the-art edifice opens on BYU campus

Students gather in the rooms of BYU's newly renovated Eyring Science Center - studying the stars, conducting experiments in a chamber void of echo, and analyzing the properties of a wave.

For them the structure is both old and new. It has all the conveniences of modern laboratories, multi-media classrooms, and state-of-the-art equipment.But the building, which was gutted and expanded two years ago, looks much like it did when it was first dedicated in 1950: a giant pendulum still swings in the center's lobby, an underground acoustics room remains intact, and the dome that houses a planetarium still stands as one of the structure's distinctive characteristics.

President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, rededicated the building March 10. (Please see story on page 3.) Originally completed in 1950, the building was named after Carl F. Eyring, who served as dean of BYU's College of Arts and Sciences from 1924 until his death in 1951.

Once the largest building on the BYU campus, the Eyring Science Center had become out of date over the years.

Irvin G. Bassett, an assistant to the dean of the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, said that several years ago the building was judged to be in need of either a remodeling or complete replacement.

Safety requirements, seismic upgrades and mandates by the Americans with Disabilities Act prompted the need for change. As did the need for new wiring, plumbing and scientific equipment, said Brother Bassett.

University officials decided to give the old building a face lift instead of tearing it down and starting over to save money. Brother Bassett said he is glad they did. He explained that the building, which is a "real sturdy building," had several features worth keeping - such as the acoustics lab and the astronomical observatory.

To go with these treasures, the building now has newly configured hallways and classrooms, rolling shelves to house rock collections, and an upgraded air conditioning and heating system. The science center houses classrooms, laboratories and office space for the departments of geology, food science and nutrition, and physics and astronomy.

Also new to the building are food testing facilities, including a food sensory lab for developing food products, and a public dining room in the main foyer. Silver strips along the walls of the circular kitchen area, known on campus as the Elizabeth Dining Room, are patterned after the rings of the planet Uranus.

Classes have been conducted in the renovated building since Jan. 5 - even though work was not completely finished. The on-going completion of the building was reminiscent of its original opening in 1950, when cutbacks in materials because of the lingering effects of World War II and labor strikes delayed the actual completion of the building until well after students began occupying it.

During the design process, administrators added 5,000 square feet to the Eyring Science Center, bringing the building's total to about 172,000.

Brother Bassett said designers tried to envision what needs each department would have well into the next century.

Although Brother Bassett said it is probably not possible to build a building that technology will never make obsolete - he thinks this new Eyring Science Center will work for BYU and its students for at least another 40 years.

"We tried to envision where we can go and what we can do," Brother Bassett said.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed