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A New Millikan for a New Era of Science and Math

Millikan Hall, completed in 2015

The new Millikan Laboratory

The stairwell in Millikan Laboratory at Pomona College

Inside Millikan Laboratory


The new state-of-the-art Digital Planetarium


A lecture hall in Millikan Laboratory

A new Millikan Hall is here. Open for summer research and scheduled to have classes in fall 2015, the building has state-of-the-art classrooms and labs in a structure designed to meet some of the most stringent green building standards. With its domed digital planetarium, outdoor physics lab and two-story atrium entrance, the rebuilt Millikan is one of the College’s most prominent buildings, an inviting space for campus and the wider community.

Built in 1958 as part of the Seaver complex of science buildings, Millikan Laboratory was remarkable for its time, more than doubling the space for physics and mathematics. But, in recent years, it was showing its age. Renovating Millikan was the original plan. However, faced with problems that included a cracked foundation, a structure unsuitable to sustainability improvements, and classrooms and labs built for the ’50s (long before advanced optical and laser technologies and nanotechnology became major fields in physics teaching and research), the College decided to do an assessment comparing the costs of renovation and rebuilding. The study concluded that, thanks largely to energy savings, the additional cost of rebuilding could be recouped in less than five years.

The new 74,868-square-foot, three-story building—part of a project that also includes a renovation of the adjoining Andrew Science Hall—features, like its predecessor and neighbors, cast-in-place concrete, masonry design elements, textured plaster, a red tile roof and an entrance patio. South-facing clerestory windows bring in natural light from the second floor to the first through open light shafts. Grading along the south side of the building allows for windows into the basement, with the north side remaining windowless for experiments that require complete darkness. A committee of students and faculty has also worked closely with the architects to improve critical temperature control and vibration stability.