$76 million lecture hall and research facility opens on WSU campus

The second phase of the A. Paul Schaap Chemistry Building and Lecture Hall opened last week at 5101 Cass Ave. on Wayne State's campus, expanding and renovating the school's chemistry laboratories and classrooms to state-of-the-art levels. The $76 million project, which began in 2004, was funded by Wayne State University and a $10 million donation from A. Paul Schapp (a former chemistry professor at WSU) and his wife Carol through the Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan.

New updates include a four-story glass atrium, a new 150-seat lecture hall, and renovations to the building's 96,000 sq. ft of laboratories and lab-support areas. The Schaap building's labs were expanded, and all feature brand-new case and fume hoods.

Attracting the nation's top chemistry faculty and graduate students is the aim of the Lumigen Instrument Center, which redesigns the Schaap building's basement lab into a cutting-edge machine hub for nanotechnology, drug delivery systems and novel molecule research. The Chemistry Department has "something of an entrepreneurial spirit," says WSU Chemistry Dean Jim Rigby, producing three spinoff entrepreneurial ventures from the WSU labs in recent years. He says the facility modernization have the ability to create new economic activity. "There is substantial opportunity, and in the case of our department, the reality of converting intellectual property into something commercial that provides jobs, creates wealth in the state, pays taxes and all of these things," Rigby. "Really it's only the research universities (University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University) that can lead to that kind of commercial development."

Rigby says achieving silver LEED certification was also a priority for the department. Chemistry buildings, Rigby says, "move either warm air or cold air out of the building; so by definition, it’s a little less efficient than most. But we have aggressively pursued the LEED certification." Two sloped "green roofs" cool the building during the warmer months; all electrical systems were also modernized for additional long-term savings.

A. Paul Schaap was Professor of Chemistry at WSU before leaving to found Lumigen, Inc., after a discovery he made in the very laboratories his gift has funded. Lumigen, recently acquired by Beckman Coulter, discovered a light-emitting molecule, now used in a compound that's used to diagnose AIDS, cancer and hepatitis. "He's one of the ideal donors because he knows what is needed and to move in that particular direction so it's worked out very well for our department," says Rigby.

Find out more here.

Source: Jim Rigby, professor of chemistry; Dean, Department of Chemistry, Wayne State University
Writer: Ashley C. Woods
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