Aerospace and Mechanical Eng

Two Smaller Structures

Electrical Engineering Laboratory
Electrical Engineering Laboratory

Two one-story buildings were designed for the UA campus by Lyman and Place and were completed in 1918 and 1919 under the presidency of Dr. Rufus B. von KleinSmid. And in 1985, in an informal announcement, the UA administration said that they will be torn down in the near future.

They are now known as the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Building and the Electrical Engineering Laboratory. When first occupied the Aerospace Building was called the Mechanical Arts Building and in 1961-62 it was known as the Engineering Materials Laboratories. The Electrical Engineering Laboratory was originally named the Pyro Metallurgy Building and also was known as the Mill Building. Minutes of the Board of Regents can sometimes be confusing.

John B. Lyman is credited with the design of the Aero Space structure and Lyman and Roy Place are listed as the designers of the Electrical Engineering Laboratory. The individual responsible for each building is not necessarily pertinent. The fact is that the partnership of Lyman and Place produced the architectural drawings.

The buildings are similar in design, are austere and rather unattractive from an architectural viewpoint. They were built during wartime and there were no funds for frills.

The College of Architecture calls them "nondescript" buildings with the regularity of window spacing that is found in hints of classicism. The college notes that there is a "regular rhythm of window openings."

They are located across the street to the north of the reservoir and the Aeronautics Building, which in turn lie to the north of the Student Union. They front on North Drive and back up to Second Street.

The structure to the west was completed in the spring of 1918 and is the present Aero Space and Mechanical Engineering Building. Built as the Mechanical Arts Building, in 1961 it became known as the Engineering Materials Laboratories and then was given its present name.

It cost $26,840. In 1963, alterations at $25,416 were made and still further alterations were done in 1967 at a cost of $64,999. No contractor is listed in records. Lew Place believes that the original building was built by university-supplied labor under the supervision of Roy Place.

Lew Place was asked about the cost of $64,999 in 1967. Place said that the only explanation he could offer was that the Arizona Legislature likely appropriated $65,000 for the work and it was brought in for $1 under the appropriation.

When the university supplied the labor, some fancy-foot work was possible, since unexpended appropriations for structures reverted to a fund controlled by the university. This fund, however, could only be used for construction and improvements.

The original Pyro Metallurgy Building lies across a north-south street to the east of the first building. It was completed in the summer of1919 at a cost of $11,760 and, again, no contractor is listed.

These "twins" are about to depart.
These "twins" are about to depart.


Phyllis Ball, of the UA Library's Special Collections, has done considerable research on the second building. Her research shows:

July, 1919, from the Board of Regents minutes: "The Pyro Metallurgy Building, to be used by the U. S. Bureau of Mines for experimentation in certain methods of ore treatment, is also nearing completion." It was to be the central unit for a future mechanical arts building, the wings of which would be added later.

UA catalogs 1919/20-1921/22 list this small brick building as the "Mill Building ... utilized for leaching experiments and other large scale metallurgical operations." It is not shown on campus maps 1919/ 20-1921/22. The "pictorial maps" 1923/24-1925/26 list it as the Mines Laboratory.

Appearing on campus maps, 1919/20-1921/22, is an unidentified building believed to be the "warehouse" referred to in the listing of temporary buildings erected in 1918 for wartime trainees (barracks, mess hall etc.) in the far northeast area of the campus. It appears in photographs of the time on the west side of the Mill Building/Mines Laboratory. The "pictorial maps" 1923/24-1925/26 identify it as the Warehouse and Garages. On February 25, 1928, it was "destroyed" by fire, according to the Arizona Wildcat. Apparently, the destruction was not total, for it appears in a February, 1929, photograph.

In March, 1928, after the fire, UA President Byron Cummings recommended construction of a new warehouse and garage, and on May 29, 1928, the Board of Regents approved construction of one wing of such a structure located "in the rear of present brick building, now used for experiments in leaching ore, called 'The Shops' at a cost of $11,760." This evidently got underway immediately, though the onestory wing was placed on the east side rather than in the rear. It also appears in the February, 1929, photo mentioned above.

The actual demolition date of the former wooden garage has not been confirmed but probably was sometime in 1929-30. Excavation for the west wing was underway in August, 1931, and by 1932, it was completed. Campus maps, 1930/31-1950/51 identify the completed structure as the Warehouse and Garage. The exterior matches the material, style and design of the 1918 Mechanical Arts building of John B. Lyman, located just to the west.

(Regardless of Miss Ball's reference to the similarity, by 1930-31, Lyman was long gone from Tucson. Roy Place was the architect for the Warehouse and Garage.) All campus supplies were received and distributed from this building, which had adjacent garage facilities for campus vehicles.

From 1951/52 to 1954/55 campus maps list it as General Stores and Garage.

After completion of the new General Stores and Garage on Fifth Street in 1955, this building was remodeled for use by the College of Engineering. The garage side became an automobile lab for Mechanical Engineering; the stores side became a materials testing lab for Civil Engineering, formerly located in the basement of the original Mines and Engineering Building.

Alterations were made in 1956, 1958, 1961, 1962 when the central patio was roofed over, 1965 and 1967.

Lew Place recalls that William Bray, head of buildings and grounds, had an office in this building at one time.

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