Moments before Johnson Hall’s grand opening Friday afternoon, more than 50 Oregon State University engineering students paid tribute to the family whose name adorns the new College of Engineering facility.
The students formed two lines on either side of the entrance to Johnson Hall to create a path for Peter and Rosalie Johnson, the pair who donated $7 million for the state-of-the-art facility. And as they walked inside, the Johnsons offered their appreciation to the students, while fighting back tears.
The Johnsons joined more than 200 students, faculty and staff Friday afternoon for the grand opening of the $40 million Johnson Hall, located at Southwest Park Terrace Place and Monroe Avenue, just north of the Kelley Engineering Center. The 58,000-square-foot facility is the new home for the School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering at OSU.
The three-story building includes a 125-seat lecture hall, state-of-the-art research and teaching laboratories, an innovative learning classroom, engineering community centers and a hub aimed at improving recruitment and retention of engineering students.
Peter Johnson, who graduated from Oregon State in 1955 with a degree in chemical engineering, helped to revolutionize battery manufacturing equipment. The Johnson family donation of $7 million to begin construction of Johnson Hall leveraged an earlier gift of $10 million from an anonymous donor and $3 million in additional funds that has been matched by $20 million in state funds.
OSU President Ed Ray said he was reminded of the words of Winston Churchill who said “we shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us.”
“As Johnson Hall opens its doors to welcome students, we are very confident they will be shaped for success in their success in education, in future careers and for many of us, a signature element of what we’re all about: community service,” Ray said.
James Sweeney, head of the School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering, said Johnson Hall is a showcase facility that is set to transform the College of Engineering.
“As engineers and as educators, we talk about creating a better future,” he said. “The work being done here today at Johnson Hall will help make that future possible.”
Johnson Hall was designed by architecture firm SRG Partnership and was built by Hoffman Construction.
Scott Ashford, Kearney Professor and dean of OSU’s College of Engineering, thanked all of the donors, architects and construction crews for the opportunities that Johnson Hall will provide for students.
“As a civil engineer myself, I have a special place in my heart for bricks and mortar. And I could geek out all day about the sheer walls and the design and the materials used,” he said, later complimenting the natural light, the lecture halls and the laboratories. “But this building is so much more than the features. It’s about the people that will use and benefit from those features.”
Nearly 30 faculty and staff will teach in Johnson Hall and there are more than 1,000 students in the School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering. One of those students is Johnson scholar Jolynn Meza Wynkoop.
“I was actually a part of the celebration two years ago when we broke ground on this new building,” she said. “I’m now a senior in environmental engineering and I’m more excited than ever about my future, and even more thankful for what I’ve gained as a Johnson scholar.”
Chemical engineering alumnus Kayla Al-Khaledy also took a moment Friday to thank the Johnson family.
“Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, I am so excited for this new building,” she said. “I may be slightly biased, but I can’t think of a more deserving group of students. … Pete and Rosalie, because you gave, I’m excited about giving too.”