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Groundbreaking for $22M Chemistry Building

Architect’s illustration of the planned $22 million Thatcher Building for Biological and Biophysical Chemistry.

Sept. 20, 2011 – The University of Utah will break ground Thursday, Sept. 22, for the Thatcher Building for Biological and Biophysical Chemistry, an estimated $22 million facility to be built next to the existing chemistry building.

The ceremony will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the campus construction site, just southwest of the Henry Eyring Building.

The new state-of-the-art Thatcher Building will provide space for a complex of mass spectrometers to analyze chemicals, an entire floor for advanced undergraduate teaching laboratories, new organic and biochemical synthesis labs, world-class imaging and spectroscopy equipment and a new home for theoretical chemistry on campus.

VCBO Architects designed the Thatcher Building, which will be erected by Okland Construction. The grand opening is anticipated by spring 2013.

“The Thatcher Building is a wonderful and much-needed expansion of our research campus,” said David W. Pershing, the University of Utah’s senior vice president for academic affairs. “It will provide outstanding teaching and research space for our undergraduate and graduate students, and first-rate laboratories that will advance the work of our internationally recognized chemistry faculty.”

The Thatcher Building is named in honor of the Lawrence E. and Helen F. Thatcher family of Salt Lake City in recognition of their steadfast support in providing a lead gift to the project.

“Utah chemistry is recognized worldwide for the strides being made in research to uncover the causes of cancer and other diseases, enhancing systems for drug delivery, developing treatments for the ills of aging, and otherwise helping to improve the human condition,” said family spokesman Thomas Thatcher. “My family is honored to play a part in making this building a reality and thereby advancing chemistry research at the U.”

The National Institutes of Health, in recognizing the importance of Utah’s advanced biological and biophysical chemistry research, previously awarded $8 million toward the cost of construction.

The Thatcher Building’s research and teaching labs will provide sophisticated instrumentation and facilities necessary for today’s scientific work. The five-story, 41,000-square-foot building will house research teams at the forefront of discovery and innovation in chemistry, with potential applications to biotechnology and medicine, including cancer research. It also will accommodate state-of-the-art laboratory space for students at a time of great need for the education of more scientists and physicians.

The Thatcher family’s involvement in the chemical industry dates to patriarch Nathan D. “Dee” Thatcher, Jr., who cofounded Wasatch Chemical Co. in Salt Lake City in the early 1900s. Dee’s sons, Winston (B.A. 1943, Chemistry) and Lawrence (B.S. 1945, Chemical Engineering) earned degrees from the U and joined the company.

In 1967, after their father passed away, Lawrence and Winston founded Thatcher Chemical, later renamed the Thatcher Co. The Salt Lake City company is a major chemical supplier and distributor in the United States and employs more than 330 people. As a custom chemical manufacturer, it supplies important needs in industries such as medical, pharmaceutical, photographic, mining, food processing and household goods.

Lawrence and Helen have four children – all graduates of the U – including Tom Thatcher (B.A. 1985, Chemistry), who serves on the College of Science Advisory Board.

For more information on the Thatcher Building and the chemistry initiative at the U, visit