Rhodes College unveils cutting-edge science facilities

Rhodes College has opened Robertson Hall, a $34 million, 54,674-square-foot home for biology and chemistry research. A recent grand opening ceremony also included the debut of the newly renovated Briggs Hall and the Bill & Carole Troutt Quadrangle.

Construction of the new Robertson Hall is part of a long-term strategic plan that the college made a decade ago.

“This was the final capstone project that we were leading up to. It was a big push to really bring all of our science facilities into the modern era,” said Dr. Milton Moreland, Rhodes Dean of the Faculty and professor of religious studies.

Over the last five years, the college has opened up new facilities in environmental studies, neuroscience, physics. The latest addition will benefit those studying computer science, biology and chemistry.

Robertson Hall, named for Lola and Charles Robertson in honor of their dedication to the sciences, features four biology faculty and two chemistry faculty with six teaching labs, five research labs and three classrooms.

Construction, led by general contractor Grinder Taber & Grinder, began in 2015. The building sits where there had previously been a small parking lot.

“We lost about 20 parking spaces and gained a 55,000-square-foot science facility, so it was a good trade-off,” said Moreland.

A monumental glazing floor-to-ceiling glass system at the main entrances facing west provides abundant natural light to the interior spaces and beautiful exterior views. The building includes energy-saving features like thermal glazing, automated LED lighting, and Energy Star-rated equipment and appliances.

The building features unique seating areas for student collaboration; custom-designed furniture, cabinets, and storage units and a walk-in cold laboratory that allows experiments to be conducted at refrigerated temperatures.

“We’ve grown as a school, and more and more students who come to Rhodes are interested in various aspects of science research,” said Moreland. “So being able to offer those students the best labs and the best research opportunities was a high priority.”

Briggs Hall, which had previously been used as a bookstore, mail room, and place for student projects, was completely renovated to become a computer science building and virtual reality lab.

“It’s very exciting open both buildings at the same time,” said Moreland. “It’s the end point for our whole campus revitalization project.”

Read more articles by Michael Waddell.

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.
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