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Packard Laboratory

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1929, Visscher and Burley
  • (© George E. Thomas)
  • (© George E. Thomas)

Attesting to the university's focus on engineering, this was the most expensive and largest structure yet built at Lehigh, costing $1.2 million and measuring 234 × 170 feet. A mechanical engineering laboratory, machine shop, and teaching facility, it was the gift of James Ward Packard (Class of 1884), founder of the automobile company that bore his name. At the opening ceremonies, Bethlehem Steel president Charles Schwab christened the building the “Crucible of Science.” Built on a sloping site, which gives it its lively form, the building is of steel and concrete, and clad with brown local rubble stone with Collegiate Gothic details in limestone. The Gothic portal contains its own iconography of modern industry, with flanking statues of James Watt and Michael Faraday, and a bust of Packard in the arch above.

Writing Credits

George E. Thomas


What's Nearby


George E. Thomas, "Packard Laboratory", [Bethlehem, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 2

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, George E. Thomas, with Patricia Likos Ricci, Richard J. Webster, Lawrence M. Newman, Robert Janosov, and Bruce Thomas. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 288-288.

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