Early in 1958 a survey carried out by the Committee on Design of Physics Buildings of the American Association of Physics Teachers (APT), under the chairmanship of Dr. Yale K. Roots, showed that during the next few years the chairmen of some 200 physics departments expected to be involved in the design or building of new physics buildings for their institutions. The estimated cost of these new physics buildings was close to $250,000,000. Based on the experience of those who had recently completed buildings, it could be anticipated that information concerning the design of these buildings would be sought by staff members of physics departments, college presidents, and architects so that the projected buildings might be most effective for good teaching and significant research.
Although the committee was anxious to assist, it soon became clear that collecting data on the good and bad features of existing buildings and on novel ideas or new products that might improve new buildings was no light task. Full-time help of one or two people certainly would be necessary. To provide funds to employ these people, a request was made by the APT and the American Institute of Physics to the Educational Facilities Laboratories, Inc., which had just been established by the Ford Foundation to meet needs of this kind. On September 26, 1958, a grant in the amount of $75,850 was made to the Institute to enable the APT and the Institute to undertake jointly an 18-month study of the design of physics buildings. The officers of the two organizations felt especially honored when it turned out that this was the first grant to be made by the new organization.
As a first step in getting the study under way, the APT Committee was expanded to bring in a wider variety of talents and was established as an advisory committee to the Institute for this project. The membership of the Advisory Committee is given in the Introduction. Professor R. Ronald Palmer, Head of the Physics Department at Beloit College, was induced to take the directorship of the project and, with the kind cooperation of President Miller Upton, was given a leave of absence from Beloit on a half-time basis for the second semester of the 1958-59 school year and full-time leave for 1959-60. Mr. William Maxwell Rice, an architect with the Ernest O. Lawrence Radiation Laboratory at the University of California and at that time chairman of the American Institute of Architects' Committee on Science and Architecture, was employed as staff architect. The project was carried out in the education department of the Institute under the general supervision of its director, Dr. William C. Kelly. During the initiation and execution of the project, Professors V. E. Eaton, C. J. Overbeck, F. W. Sears, and L. O. Olsen served successively as APT presidents.
On behalf of the American Association of Physics Teachers and the American Institute of Physics, it is our great pleasure to express our appreciation to Dr. Harold B. Gores, President, and Mr. Jonathan King, Secretary of the Educational Facilities Laboratories, Inc., for their helpful advice and for the financial support which made this study possible; to the members of the APT Advisory Committee who gave so freely of their time and judgment; and, particularly, to Professor Palmer and Mr. Rice for the enthusiastic and painstaking way in which the project was carried out.
LEONARD O. OLSEN, President American Association of Physics Teachers
ELMER HUTCHISSON, Director American Institute of Physics
August 8, 1960 . . .