Coover Hall History

Building of the Electrical Engineering Building

Entrance to Coover Hall, which was built in the 1950s

When the department was formed in 1909, the department was housed in the Engineering Annex. The department outgrew the annex, and in 1943, Department Chair Warren B. Boast and Professor John D. “Jack” Ryder (PhDEE ’44) collaborated with Allen H. Kimball, a professor and head of the architectural engineering department, to design the department’s new home, the Electrical Engineering Building (renamed Coover Hall in 1969). The trio visited new buildings at East Coast schools and worked with architects to make sure the building’s design included “novel ideas, especially those affecting student environment” in the new building in order “to produce a good academic environment for the students.”

According to Ryder, he and Boast “had a wide use of color in the building and a logical layout of laboratory spaces so that you would effectively utilize square footage in a laboratory. The ideal is an infinitely long zero width laboratory because the more wall space you can get, the more services you can supply to your test tables. The test table out in the middle of the square room is worthless because if you do supply services they come through conduits on the floor and you’re forever nailed down to that location. But if you’re supplying your services from the wall you can change things as you wish.”

Ryder also said that “these laboratories were mostly designed in pairs with an instrument room or a storage room between them that, considered both ways, would have equipment in the storage room to supply both laboratories. You might have an elementary circuits lab and an advanced circuits lab or a circuits lab and a transmission line lab with similar types of equipment and you supply both of them out of the same room. So the modular supply circuitry for two labs are about the same.”

The building included a machine laboratory, called the high bay area. One of the architects told Ryder and Boast, “If you are going to have a room that big, it had better be so high.” The new building reflected the continuation of electric power teaching, but had flexibility for other academic pursuits, including electric circuits.

Most of the building was completed in 1950. Due to budget constraints, only the power lab and first and second floors were completed at that time. The third floor and auditorium were completed in 1951 and 1952, respectively.

Transforming the High Bay Area

In the 1990s, the department began upgrading its facilities. In 1999, the department unveiled the Active Learning Complex (ALC), a learning space especially for students, located in the former high bay area of Coover Hall. The ALC space was intended to enhance learning through the facilitation of communication and interaction among students.

Building a New Addition

ECpE Building Addition

ECpE Building Addition

In 2006, the department began construction of a $16.5 million addition on the west side of the building. To make room for the addition, the department tore down part of the old Coover Hall. The addition opened in 2008 and added 23,000 square feet for classrooms, research labs, and teaching labs. The department currently is raising funds to begin a second phase of building and renovations to upgrade its facilities.