Chemical bling' shows the way

University of Otago chemistry department immediate past head Prof Lyall Hanton with the new molecular art installation. Photo: Gregor Richardson
University of Otago chemistry department immediate past head Prof Lyall Hanton with the new molecular art installation. Photo: Gregor Richardson
A 12.5-tonne, three-storey-high representation of a molecular network, in steel, has become a new ''gateway'' to the University of Otago's division of sciences, in Dunedin.

This big molecular installation was partly assembled on site and a 70-tonne crane lifted it into its final position in Union Place West last weekend.

As well as marking an overall gateway, the installation also strikingly promotes study at New Zealand's oldest and second-largest university chemistry department.

A $56 million redevelopment of the university's Science 1 building, by Leighs Construction, of Christchurch, has included linking it to the Science 2 building with an atrium.

''It is wonderful the project has provided this chemical bling,'' immediate past chemistry department head Prof Lyall Hanton said.

The atrium was not only a thoroughfare but also an ''excellent gathering and social space'', he said.

Adding the three-sided network structure to the atrium entrance last weekend marked a further step towards the redevelopment's expected completion in April.

The abstract representation of a molecular network was designed by project architect Parker Warburton Team Architects director Simon Parker and the project's structural engineering consultants, Calibre, both of Dunedin.

Prof Hanton was also impressed by another expression of the molecular theme at the nearby western end of chemistry's redeveloped and renamed Mellor Laboratories building, in Cumberland St.

There, a lit-up molecular structure of laurenene, which was discovered by Otago PhD chemistry student Denis Lauren in 1970, has been displayed for more than a year.

Laurenene is a compound extracted from the rimu tree and has a unique chemical structure: four rings sharing a central carbon atom.

The redevelopment had delivered a ''really great environment'', including much improved chemistry teaching and research facilities, Prof Hanton said.

He believed this would attract more students into chemistry.

Dr Lauren had achieved the rare honour of having a chemical compound permanently named after him, which amounted to ''chemical immortality''.

Prof Hanton had later joked with Otago chemistry students that if they too worked hard, they might also have a chemical compound named after them.

The Cumberland St display also reflected the department's long history of studying the chemistry of native plants, he said.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

Comments

More bling and bucks but more sacking of good academics and teachers. Makes sense if all one wants are appearances at U of Otago.

Awesome great addition to the Uni I guess it will serve at least three purposes,

A representation of a molecular network, in steel,
A new ''gateway'' to the University of Otago's division of sciences,
A jungle gym for drunk students after hours.