Celebrating the 25th anniversary of Tan Kah Kee Hall

View of Tan Hall in 2022

View of Tan Kah Kee Hall. (Photo Keegan Houser, 2022)

Thanks to the generosity of more than 2,000 individuals, corporations, and foundations, Tan Kah Kee Hall (Tan Hall) was the first building at the College of Chemistry constructed with a majority of private funds. Completed in 1997, the project marked an exceptional partnership not only between the state and the private sector, but also between the College of Chemistry and a global community of supporters who were deeply invested in Berkeley’s mission as one of the leading scientific institutions in the world. 

Tan Hall under construction

The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Image: Tan Hall under construction. Photo courtesy College of Chemistry collection.

When Tan Hall opened in 1997, it addressed the immediate need for new lab space to house the College of Chemistry's growing chemical engineering program, which was renamed the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in 2010, to recognize the substantial research and teaching in the areas of biochemical and biomedical engineering, biotechnology, and synthetic biology. Since the building opened 25 years ago, several floors of Tan Hall have been devoted entirely to chemical engineering research.

"Just about everything that was done during my first few years as dean was directed toward the development of the building project that became Tan Kah Kee Hall. The College of Chemistry had simply run out of space; we’d grown in both people and quantity of research. In addition, the nature of our research was changing—specifically, with the growth in the relatively new field of biochemical engineering—we needed lab space designed for these new directions. Furthermore, code requirements for research facilities had changed, rendering lab spaces in some of our existing older buildings obsolete. Tan Hall addressed all these needs—and made possible the continuing growth of the College of Chemistry."
--C. Judson King
Today, more than a dozen chemical engineering professors have their labs in Tan Hall, where they pursue groundbreaking research in areas like catalysis and reaction engineering, electrochemical engineering, polymers and complex fluids, microsystems technology and microelectrics, molecular simulations and theory, interfacial engineering, biochemical and bioprocess engineering, biomedical engineering, and synthetic biology.

Follow the links below to learn about the research of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering faculty in Tan Hall:

Ribbon cutting, Tan Hall, 1997

Tan Hall opening 1979. (l to r) Noble laureate Y.T. Lee, Dean Alexis Bell, and Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien. (Photo College of Chemistry Collection)

The Department of Chemistry

In addition to providing crucial lab space for chemical engineering, Tan Hall also expanded research capacity within the Department of Chemistry. Upon the building's dedication, two full floors were devoted to synthetic chemistry, a growing field in which Berkeley had recently hired two senior faculty, including Emeritus Professor Robert Bergman. Several underground floors offer vibration-free lab space that is essential for certain kinds of research in physical chemistry.

Today, Tan Hall provides lab space for chemistry professors pursuing research within each of the core concentrations of our doctoral program in chemistry: physical chemistry, synthetic chemistry (including an emphasis in either organic or inorganic chemistry), theoretical chemistry, and chemical biology.

Follow the links below to learn about the work of a few of the chemistry professors who have researched in Tan Hall:

View the full report here

The full report about the 25th anniversary of Tan Kah Kee Hall is available here.

Raising funds for Heathcock Hall

Twenty-five years later, we are currently closing in on the phase one fundraising for our newest building project Heathcock Hall. We have raised $130M and need to raise $20M more to break ground in 2023. Help us get to the finish line! Contact Mindy Rex, Sr. Director of Development at rex@berkeley.edu.