Derby Hall

By Laura Wilk

The first part of the building that would become Derby Hall was built in 1906. The architect for this original building was H.R. Burns and its name was simply Chemistry Building no. 3 as the twDerby Hallo previous chemistry buildings were destroyed in fires. Ironically, this building was damaged by fire within its first 6 months of use. Throughout the years, there were four different additions to the building with different designers for each. Albert Pretzinger, Joseph N. Bradford, WPA and Wright and Gilfillin were the designers, listed in the order they occurred. As seen in the figure one, the additions were drastic. The second addition was even removed in order to make more space for the planned later additions.

In the 1920s, the building was changed from a chemistry buildings to that for liberal arts. A few years later, on August 8, 1929, it was named Derby Hall in memory of Samuel Carroll Derby. Derby was a professor of Latin for 40 years at Ohio State, as well as the first Dean of the former Colleges of Arts and Sciences. Currently, the building is being used for the home of the Political Science and Geography departments.

When Derby Hall was first constructed, it was one of the first located on the oval. At the time, only Hayes Hall and University Hall were along that same side of the oval. They were said to have ‘beDerby Hallgan the arc of buildings facing the north side of the oval’. Currently, Derby Hall is surrounded by buildings as seen in Figure 2, but its next-door-neighbors are Bricker and Hopkins Halls.

As for the construction of Derby Hall, the building was made of a reinforced concrete frame with brick exterior. The building after all the additions is 3 stories with a basement as well. Many things could have been taken into consideration when creating the building. One of the more notable features of the hall would be the courtyard – one of few located on campus. The courtyard is located in the center of the building to allow more natural lighting into inner rooms of the buildings. The front façade of the building was also taken into much consideration. The entrance of the building is not hard to find and that would be because of the hierarchy of the entrance as shown in Figure 3. The archway present around the doorway leads people to the door, as well as the few steps present. One can also see the symmetry as shown in Figure 4. This is a strategy commonly used in architectural spaces to again draw attention to the central entrance. Lastly, Derby Hall has circulation the leads around the circular setup of the building and occasionally leads into the courtyard, shown in Figure 5.


“Derby Hall (Chemistry Building no. 3).” Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture Digital Library. Ohio State University. Web.”