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Mechanical Engineering Laboratories (Richards)

Vital Statistics






F.P. Gould and Sons



Also Known As:

Richards Hall

In the spring of 1907 C.R. Richards was named Associate Dean of the Industrial College, with responsibility for the engineering programs offered by the University. He was immediately instructed by the Regents to begin planning a new building to house the mechanical engineering department. Prior to this time, classes and offices were located in Mechanical Arts Hall and the Electrical Engineering Laboratory.

In June 1907, the Regents formally accepted Richards as the architect of the new building with no increase in pay. Construction began on the building during the spring of 1908. The building was occupied toward the end of 1910. By this time, C.R. Richards was Dean of the newly created College of Engineering, the old Industrial College led by Charles Bessey being split into the College of Agriculture and the College of Engineering.

Richards was adamant that a new facility be designed to serve the specialized technical needs of an Engineering College. Prior to the completion of the Mechanical Engineering Laboratories most engineering classes were theoretical by necessity, since University facilities did not provide the space, nor specialization, for practical, hands-on training. Woodworking and machine shops, a foundry, and laboratories for heat, steam, gas, forging, drafting, and hydraulics, as well as the usual lecture rooms and offices, were incorporated into Richard's design.

Richards Hall is constructed of Lincoln iron spot pressed brick with terra cotta trimings, a tile roof manufactured by the Ludowici-Celadon Company of Chicago, copper cornices, and reinforced concrete floors supported by steel beams. Described as Roman-Doric in 1908, the building is an excellent example of Italianate or Renaissance Revivial architecture, and the only example of this style on the UNL city campus.

In 1944 a group of alumni petitioned the Board of Regents to rename the building Richards Laboratory. Now named Richards Hall, the building was renovated and enlarged in 2000. It has provided studio and gallery space for the Department of Art and Art History for several decades.

Source Information:
Knoll, p 50, 60, ; University Journal, Jan 1910, no 6.; Regents minutes, 1907-8. Regents archives, 1/1/1 b 18; Biennial rpts, 20th-21st.