Structure Type: built works - public buildings - schools - university buildings

Designers: Bindon, Wright and Partners, Architects (firm); Leonard William Bindon (architect); John LeBaron Wright (architect)

Dates: constructed 1965-1966

3 stories

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105 Okanogan Lane
University of Washington Campus, Seattle, WA 98105

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Building History

This building, originally housing the Chemical Engineering Department, was named for Professor Henry Kreitzer Benson (1877-1954), a scholar who experimented extensively with wood pulp and wrote several books, including Fused Salts, Containing Water of Crystallization: As Solvents (1907), Industrial Chemistry for Engineering Students (1913), The Chemical Utilization of Wood in Washington (1923) and The Pulp and Paper Industry of the Pacific Northwest (1929). Benson was born in PA, and came to the University of WA from Johns Hopkins University in 1905; at the UW, he focused most of his teaching in industrial chemistry. When Benson first came to the UW, the Department of Chemistry was housed in four temporary buildings surrounding Denny Hall. Benson married Eva Amanda Ronald (1883-1980) on 06/15/1905 in Seattle, and with her had four children. The Bensons resided in the Maple Leaf neighborhood of Seattle according to the US Census of 1930. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation Year: 1930; Census Place: Maple Leaf, King, Washington; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 0320; FHL microfilm: 2342224, accessed 08/22/2018.) A scholarship in the UW Chemical Engineering Department was named for Henry K. Benson.

In 1965, the University of Washington Board of Regents approved over $5 million in revenue bonds to build an addition to Bagley Hall for a Chemical Engineering Building. Construction was contingent on the WA State Legislature's approval of the debt. TheSeattle Daily Timesreported in 03/1965: "The George E. Trufel Co. yesterday was awarded, conditionally, a $2,277,451 contract by the University of Washington Board of Regents for construction of the University's Chemical Engineering Building. To finance construction of the building and other projects, the regents accepted a bid from Blyth & Co., Inc., for the purchase of a %5.25 million issue of university general tuition-fee revenue bonds. The Chemical Engineering Building award hinges upon the Legislature's approval of the use of tuition bond funds to finance part of the cost. No appropriations from the state's general fund will be used in the construction. Financing will include $510,000 from a National Science Foundation grant. The four-story building, with a total cost of $2,760,700, will rise west of Bagley Hall on a site that formerly was part of the campus drug-plant garden. The Blyth bid carries an interest rate of 3.4735 per cent. The serial coupon bonds, with a maximum maturity of 30 years, will be paid out of student tuitions. In addition to the Chemical Engineering Building the money will pay for construction of Padelford Hall (Arts and Sciences Buildings) and campus utilities." (See "U.W. Building Pact Awarded,"Seattle Daily Times, 03/27/1965, p. 26.) The UW Chemical Engineering was re-sited and built to the west of Bagley Hall across Okanagon Lane, not to the south. The new Chemical Engineering Building was renamed "Benson Hall," completed in 1966. This southern site was later built upon for an addition in the mid-1990s.

The UW College of Engineering said of Benson Hall in 2018: "Originally named the Chemical Engineering Building, Benson Hall was built in 1966 for approximately $2.9 million. It was constructed from a design by Bindon, Wright and Partners. The building incorporated precautionary design for its time. It had a 35 ton sliding door and reverse pressure rooms. These features were incorporated to prevent the accidental escape of radioactive material in the pulse neutron generation lab or particles from escaping when the door was opened. Also a special sump was installed to prevent harmful chemicals from entering Seattle's sewer system. The four-story building originally housed nuclear and chemical engineering. The facility was named after Henry K. Benson, who served the UW more than 50 years, including being Chair of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering from 1919 to 1947." (See University of Washington, College of Engineering, "About Us: Benson Hall," accessed 08/22/2018.)

PCAD id: 4894