Last week when I was talking about the construction and then demolition of the Bonner Lab, I mentioned that I didn’t know much about what the interior looked like. But today I unexpectedly came across a group of photos that were taken inside the lab! Most of the images show nothing but pieces of equipment, which are frankly meaningless to me. But a few of them almost accidentally reveal something of the sense of the building’s interior. Part of the space was really, really tall. I’m admittedly a bit slow, but I feel fairly certain this would have been taken in the tower portion of the lab:
This next photo feels exactly opposite–sort of claustrophobic, as if it were taken underground. I think the man who’s wedged in there between two pieces of equipment is Jerry Phillips, the long time head of the Physics Department. I was immediately taken by the bricks lining the walls at the end of the room–a friend told me a story the other day about brick walls in the lab whose composition made them suitable for use in targeting areas. Is that what this is?
It took a while for me to notice another old friend in this picture. Remember this?
They are nice stools.
I own a fair amount of what was left in Bonner before it was demolished. UniStrut, shelves, industrial steel stuff, a really nice yellow sign that warns about radioactivity. I had two Bozobus loads.
The administration chose a novel approach to reducing the tonnage that they would have to haul away after demolition – they just unlocked the doors and looked the other way. We were all free to take whatever we wanted. I remember running into Bill Wilson in there as he busily sized things up with a tape measure, to see if they would work for whatever it was he had in mind.
One of the things that I found, and donated to the RHS (before I was a member) was a ledger book with records of donations given toward some award related to Dr. Bonner. That should be in the Woodson, somewhere.
One of the projects facing me in the next few days is setting up the UniStrut shelf supports that I liberated from Bonner, in my garage.
And the sign for the building, which was out near the street, was last seen sitting near the recycling enclosure next to what was Central Kitchen.
Forgot to mention that I also got them to recover the special acoustic tiles from the large classroom space at the back of the building where the (Campanile?) orchestra had been rehearsing. That room was allegedly also the location of OwlNet before it was rehearsal space. Those pyramidal acoustic tiles were later installed in the “new” bandhall for The MOB, in the basement of Central Kitchen, saving quite a bit of money.
The T.W. Bonner Laboratory still exists and you could actually ask people in the lab about things. There are a number of people who were around when the old building existed.
Sometimes I have to laugh at myself. I get so caught up in things from decades ago that I’m not always so good on current events.
Yes, the Bonner Lab certainly does still exist! I will come over and see you guys soon.
Rice Chorale also practiced in that room at the back of Bonner Lab. And, yes, it was also later the home of OwlNet; I remember going over there with engineering-major friends for quick trips to turn in lab assignments or check email, back before anyone could do that from the residential colleges.
First picture is the original accelerator that occupied the tower. The scaffolding in the upper right of the picture supports the pressure tank, the bottom of which is visible. The tank, which normally enclosed the accelerator, would be lifted off for maintenance. Hence the tower had to be more than twice the height of the accelerator that you see pictured.
The second picture is the the first half of the 1960s era tandem accelerator and that is indeed Gerry Phillips.The tandem accelerator was on ground level in an addition to the back and side of the original building. I don’t remember the geometry of the addition very well but I think that the bricks are stacked up along exterior walls and were probably for radiation shielding to protect people outside the building.