Vanderbilt University - Chemistry Building

Chemistry Elevated

The Chemistry building is located in air-rights space above the Stevenson Science Center lecture halls and the Science Library. At first glance, there was no site available for a 104,000 SF structure.

The design team modeled the opportunities for adding a volume in the middle of the Stevenson Center and, with the University; it concluded that an articulated box, located above the lecture hall, could divide the surrounding outdoor space into two successful zones without using valuable ground area.

The building caps the lecture hall, providing four occupied levels and two mechanical floors. The structure touches the ground outside of the auditorium, creating an arcade and an entrance lobby on one side and office space on the other.

Both research and teaching labs are planned on a 33’ x 44’ module which accommodates 8 to 12 graduate students in a research mode, or 20 undergraduates in a teaching mode. The teaching floor, with labs for Organic Chemistry, Advanced Organic and Physical Chemistry, registers with the original building, where pre-labs are conducted.

The design team sought clear sight lines, daylight and an interactive, computerized environment in the new labs. Corridors interconnect the lab suite for sharing and for safety. At the center of the suite is the stockroom, which has wide corridors for informal discussions. Students are invited into teaching labs by an open stair which passes through the upper level of the lobby. The labs are organized with fume hoods at the perimeter and instruments at the center. The instrument area “wrapped” by a stand-up height writing counter which gives each student a write-up space opposite the fume hood. From this innovation emerged a new paradigm for lab design.


Nashville, TN

Building Type

Chemistry Lab, Lab Support, Seminar, Office, Break Out, Auditoria, Lobby


104,000 SF

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