Centennial video series: The Chemistry Building

David Ruth

Centennial video series: The Chemistry Building
Rice University’s weekly centennial videos run through Oct. 12

HOUSTON – (April 5, 2012) – After the first wave of buildings rose around the new Rice Institute in the early 1900s, the school took on an ambitious new project in the early ’20s. In 1923 construction began on a large-for-its-time building for the natural sciences and chemists in particular. Its state-of-the-art labs and space also housed a smoking lounge, an unusual feature for the time since tobacco was used openly in most spaces; however, the lounge was needed because of all of the chemicals in the labs and the building. When smoking became less of a social norm, the lounge was no longer needed and it became the place that most people at Rice University today know as “Valhalla,” the graduate-student bar.

Working with Centennial Historian Melissa Kean, video producer Brandon Martin takes a look at the building of Rice’s Chemistry Building and Valhalla. To learn more about Rice’s history, visit Kean’s blog at www.ricehistorycorner.com.

To help celebrate the university’s centennial Oct. 12, Rice University is producing weekly videos exploring the school’s unique history.

The video, available on YouTube at http://youtu.be/cAc6PYumr8c, is also available to media in high quality and without music for editing purposes. For higher-quality video, contact David Ruth, director of national media relations at Rice, at david@rice.edu or 713-348-6327.


Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is known for its “unconventional wisdom.” With 3,708 undergraduates and 2,374 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 4 for “best value” among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to www.rice.edu/nationalmedia/Rice.pdf.

About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.