Did You Know?: Leighty Commons

October 17, 2014  

Leighty Commons

The new John A. Leighty Commons in Wetherill Laboratory features an open-layout studying lounge, private studying cubbies and Catalyst Café, which is operated by Purdue Memorial Union. (Purdue University photo/Charles Jischke)
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Four hundred twenty-five pounds of caffeine hover over the Wetherill Laboratory south entryway, energizing a completely redesigned space in one of Purdue's most historic facilities.

The suspended caffeine molecule, designed by Lumos Custom Lighting and Fabrication, is one of the many features in the new John A. Leighty Commons. Leighty Commons is named after the late John A. Leighty, who graduated with a PhD in chemistry in 1936.

"In his retirement, Dr. Leighty focused on bringing the excitement of science to young people," says Bob Wild, assistant head of the Department of Chemistry. "We dedicate the John A. Leighty Commons to him as an area for aspiring scientists to study, socialize and discuss science."

Located outside of Wetherill's Room 200, Leighty Commons maximizes the space's utility. Gone is a conference room and office suite, and in its place are Catalyst Café, private studying cubbies and an open-layout studying lounge.

Catalyst Café, operated by Purdue Memorial Union, is open 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday. The café serves products from Starbucks Coffee and Mary Lou Donuts, as well as an assortment of other drinks, baked goods and lunch items.

Outside of the café are private cubbies that function as charging stations, where students can plug in their laptops and other electronic devices. However, the open study lounge's dry erase walls allow students to leave their laptops behind and solve homework problems right on the walls. 

"We're really hoping it turns into an active learning environment for students," Wild says. "Students need a place to wait between classes. We really wanted to provide open space."

In addition to Leighty Commons, a new area was also created underneath Room 200 to showcase the Department of Chemistry's two Nobel laureates. Busts of professors Herbert C. Brown and Ei-ichi Negishi are installed along with a replica of Negishi's Nobel Prize medal.

The 1.5 million-dollar project was paid for by private donations, and a recognition area for the donors is planned.

Writer: Kourtney Freiburger, 49-62993, kfreibu@purdue.edu

Source: Steve Scherer, 49-45204, scherer@purdue.edu

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