Architect: I.W. Colburn
Address: 5734 S. Ellis Ave.
Home to the Geophysical Sciences division of the University, the Hinds Laboratory occupies a space in campus architecture chronology between the old and the new, happily providing an area for research on the fluid, solid, and paleontological properties of Earth.
A Midcentury Take on Neo-Gothic
From its founding in 1890 through the post-war optimism of the early 1950s, the aesthetic of the University of Chicago remained largely focused on the precedent set by principal architect Henry Ives Cobb and his Neo-Gothic tastes. However when the social shifts of the late 1950s and 60s called for a new paradigm I.W. Colburn responded with the Henry Hinds Laboratory for Geophysical Sciences, adding a midcentury flair to the tried and true elements of the Main Quad. Its flat grey slabs echo the limestone of the 19th century buildings across Ellis Avenue, albeit in an undecorated manner that reflects the tumult of the mid-20th. Similarly, the building’s towers replicate the verticality of Harper, Rockefeller and Mitchell while calling out to the red roofs of other campus buildings with their contrasting red brick. In context of other Brutalist works that came to be built (such as the Regenstein Library just a few years later) the Henry Hinds Laboratory for Geophysical Sciences is a building as respectful of its predecessors as it is forward-looking.