West Engineering Annex (The Old Automotive Engineering Laboratory)
Hardly had the first Engineering Building been completed when it was found that "the public [was] so thoroughly awakened to the need of men well trained to guide our great mechanical industries" that a new mechanical laboratory was required (R.P., 1881-86, p. 494). Plans for the new building were authorized by the Regents in June, 1885. In August of the same year the Committee on Buildings and Grounds reported that Gordon W. Lloyd, architect, had furnished the design for the laboratory and that J. L. Gearing and Sons was the lowest bidder at $9,387 (R.P., 1881-86, pp. 581-82).
The new building, of slow-burning mill construction with brick walls and timbered floors, was occupied in 1886. Three stories and an attic in height, it towered over the original building to which it was connected. The north doorway of this structure bore the inscription "Engineering Laboratory" with the date, 1885. Almost immediately, however, it was found necessary to enlarge this building by removing the original building and the carpenter shop. The Catalogue of the University for 1887-88 states:
The increasing demand for practical instruction in the engineering departments has made it necessary again to extend the facilities of this Laboratory. The new building, completed in 1886, has been enlarged by the addition of two wings, which nearly double its former capacity. The Laboratory now contains about 20,000 square feet of floor space.
The completed building — central part with tower and the west-wing one-story foundry room — was under contract to be finished by January 1, 1888; it contained offices, classrooms, drawing rooms, and laboratories. In the tower at a height of 70 feet was a water tank of 100 barrels capacity.
In the summer of 1900 the contract for the erection and completion (except plumbing) of another addition to the Engineering Laboratory was made with Henry Carew and Company, of Detroit, with the understanding that the work should be completed by October, 1900.
At this time both the east wing and west wing of the Engineering Laboratory were extended to the south, continuing the same design and the original red brick with sandstone trim. When the old Library was torn down the clock tower and the chimes were moved "to the Engineering Building, now the Automotive Laboratory." In 1942 these bells were donated to the World War II metal scrap drive.
The completed structure afforded 42,204 Page 1751square feet of floor space and was used continuously by the Engineering College, first as shops and then as classrooms, drawing rooms, automotive laboratory, and engineering research laboratories until razed in 1956.