Old Chem building to reopen as Sapp Center for Science Teaching and Learning

Sept. 27, 2016, 1:00 a.m.

Stanford’s long-empty Old Chemistry building, which stands to the side of the Oval, will open later this fall as the Sapp Center for Science Teaching and Learning.

The renovated building will serve as a multidisciplinary instruction space for chemistry, biology, art and economics, among other subjects. Stanford estimates that more than 4,000 students will make use of the Sapp Center’s facilities when faculty and undergraduates move into the space in early 2017.

“The new labs (will) allow us to show students how much these subjects intertwine,” Jennifer Schwartz Poehlmann, a senior chemistry lecturer, told Stanford News.

The building’s completion will mark the first milestone in the construction of the Biology Chemistry Quad. Plans for the new area, developed under President Emeritus John Hennessy, also include the future Bass Biology Building, which will be located between the Mudd Chemistry Building and the Gates Computer Science Building.

The Old Chemistry building, one of the original five “noble” buildings set out in Jane Stanford’s vision for the University, has been out of use since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and has undergone extensive restoration in order to reopen.

Improvements include excavation for a 300-seat auditorium, a new library space to hold some of the science collections, teaching lab spaces and a study space overlooking the Oval.

According to chemistry department chair Keith Hodgson, also the David Mulvane Ehrsam and Edward Curtis Franklin Professor of Chemistry, the teaching space is sorely needed.

“This renovation allows us to replace an aging set of labs and update parts of our curriculum,” Hodgson told Stanford News.

The design updates seek to preserve the building’s original concept and design from its opening over a century ago.

Accompanying the building’s reopening will be a renaming of the facility in honor of the Sapp family. Rick Sapp ’78, a former Board of Trustees member, graduated with a degree in electrical engineering and in years since has both donated to the University and facilitated fundraising.

In 2010 the family endowed the Sapp Family Provostial Professorship in Stanford’s Bio-X program, which fosters interdisciplinary research in biology and medicine. Sapp also helped raise donations for the University while he worked abroad and continued to do so in Southern California after his retirement from Goldman Sachs.


Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly called the new building the Sapp Center for Teaching and Learning, rather than the Sapp Center for Science Teaching and Learning. The article also stated that research would occur at the new center, which it will not. Additionally, the Bass Biology Building is planned but not yet under construction. The Daily regrets these errors.

Contact Regan Pecjak at reganp ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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