Herrick Labs expansion dedicated Nov. 8

Two years in the making, the expansion to the Ray W. Herrick Laboratories, a hub of interdisciplinary, industry-oriented research was dedicated on Friday, Nov. 8, 2013.

Construction for the new 68,000-square-foot building just east of the existing Herrick building on Russell Drive, began in October 2011. The new facility roughly doubles the size of the labs, which are administered by the School of Mechanical Engineering.

Leah H. Jamieson, the John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering, spoke at the ceremony, highlighting the facility's long-standing heritage at the forefront of research and teaching.

"Herrick Labs has been multi-disciplinary from its founding in 1958 — long before it was customary in academia to partner in interdisciplinary ways," she said. "Herrick blends engineering talents from ECE, CE, ME, and others — including our new architectural engineering program — and disciplines across campus such as psychological sciences and speech language and hearing sciences, studying perception and response to stimuli to inform systems design."

Jamieson also acknowledged more than a dozen individual donors and several corporate partners whose gifts made the expansion possible. About one-third of the project's cost was funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which provided $11.75 million. The remainder came largely from private donors, including $3.5 million from alumnus Roger Gatewood, a $2 million contribution from alumnus Gerald D. Hines, $3.5 million from the Ford Fund and a more than $1 million in-kind donation from Carrier. The company's founder Willis Carrier — inventor of modern air conditioning — is honored with a laboratory named after him.

        Herrick Labs Dedication
         Left to right: Don Ufford, Anil Bajaj, John Galbraith, Purdue President Mitch Daniels,
         Howard Harary, Engineering Dean Leah Jamieson, Wayne Eckerle, and Patricia Davies

The new building houses the Center for High Performance Buildings, where research is focused on equipment and operational technologies to make possible future buildings that are safer, more environmentally and user friendly, energy efficient, productive and comfortable.

One of the major challenges is to develop an understanding of the relationships between indoor environments and human health and productivity, leading to the design of better building systems, according to Patricia Davies, director of the Herrick Laboratories and professor of mechanical engineering. Her work is part of a multidisciplinary research group that will use a Perception Based Engineering Laboratory in Herrick.

The Ford Fund donated the $3.5 million toward this laboratory and associated research. Work in the Perception Based Engineering Lab is focused on understanding factors that contribute to people's perception and responses to engineered systems and environments. In the context of high-performance buildings, that work is focused on examining the factors contributing to occupant comfort and performance.

The Herrick Labs were established in the 1950s with a grant from Ray W. Herrick, then CEO of Tecumseh Products Co., in Tecumseh, Mich., after mechanical engineering professor Bill Fontaine had spent a summer working at the company. Fontaine became the first director of the laboratories.

Since then, about 900 Purdue students have completed graduate and doctoral degrees in work based at Herrick. More than 50 years after its start, Ray Herrick's great grandson, Kent Herrick, is working with the Herrick faculty on thermal systems research. The Herrick Foundation also provided one of the earliest gifts, a $1 million contribution, to this building project.