Time capsule from Research Institutes building to be unveiled June 2

A time capsule that University of Chicago Nobel laureate Enrico Fermi and former UChicago President Robert Maynard Hutchins placed in the cornerstone of the Research Institutes building nearly 62 years ago will be opened during a free, public event at 4 p.m. Thursday, June 2 at 5640 S. Ellis Ave. The event also will be streamed live over the web.

Speakers at the event will be Robert Fefferman, dean of UChicago’s Physical Sciences Division; Roger Hildebrand, the Samuel K. Allison Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Physics; and Stephen Berry, the James Franck Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Chemistry.


The Research Institutes building, which opened in 1950, will be demolished in August, and the William Eckhardt Research Center will be constructed on the same site. The Eckhardt Center will host a broad spectrum of 21st-century science, from investigation of the deepest cosmic mysteries to manipulating matter on the scale of atoms and molecules.

The Research Institutes housed the Enrico Fermi Institute and the James Franck Institute, which were founded in 1945 as the Institute for Nuclear Studies and the Institute for the Study of Metals, respectively.

The institutes were founded in recognition of the wealth of intellectual talent that had assembled at Chicago to work on the Manhattan Project. The institutes continued the dialogue between pure science and technology that the Manhattan Project had initiated, and helped ease the barriers between traditional scientific disciplines.

Many Nobel laureates or laureates to be conducted pioneering research at the institutes over the years, including Subramanyan Chandrasekhar, James Cronin, Enrico Fermi, James Franck, Yuan Lee, Maria Goeppert Mayer, Willard Libby, Yoichiro Nambu and Harold Urey. Many recipients of the National Medal of Science also conducted research at the institutes, including Robert Clayton, Leo Kadanoff, Eugene Parker and Stuart Rice.

In case of rain, the event will take place in the Kersten Family Atrium on the third floor of the Gordon Center for Integrative Science. For more information, call (773) 702-7950.