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Leighty Commons

Chemistry's goal of transforming the Wetherill main entrance into a collaborative and vital commons was completed during summer 2014.

Features of the renovated space include the Catalyst Café, a unique LED molecular light sculpture, a state-of-the-art study area, a multimedia display featuring Purdue's impact on chemistry, and a hall honoring our two Nobel Prize winners.

The space, called Leighty Commons, is named after the late John A. Leighty. (Ph.D.,1936)

"After his retirement from Eli Lilly, Dr. Leighty focused on bringing the excitement of science to young people," says Robert Wild, assistant head of the Department of Chemistry. "We dedicate this space to him as an area for aspiring scientists to study, socialize, and discuss science."

Located outside of Wetherill Room 200 Lecture Hall, Leighty Commons maximizes the space's utility. Gone is a conference room and office suite, and in its place is a café and an open-layout study lounge.

Catalyst Café, operated by Purdue Memorial Union, is open 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday. The café serves products from Starbucks Coffee and Mary Lou Donuts, as well as an assortment of other drinks, baked goods and lunch items.

Outside of the café are private cubbies that function as charging stations, where students can plug in their laptops and other electronic devices. And, the open study lounge's dry erase walls allow students to leave their laptops behind and solve homework problems right on the walls.

"We're really hoping it turns into an active learning environment for students," Wild says. "Students need a place to wait between classes. We really wanted to provide that open space."

In addition to the commons area, a new display was created underneath Room 200 to showcase the busts and tell the story of the department's two Nobel laureates - Herbert C. Brown and Ei-ichi Negishi.

Suspended above the Wetherill entrance is a caffeine molecule light sculpture. The modern LED centerpiece is 20 feet wide and weighs more than 400 pounds.

The Nobel display and LED light sculpture have become a popular photo destination on the Purdue campus.

The 1.5 million-dollar project was made possible by financial support from our alumni, faculty, and staff.

Watch how the caffeine molecule light sculpture was fabricated and installed.

Click on images to enlarge
LED Light Sculpture

Nobel Prize busts

Commons Study Area

Catalyst Cafe

Multimedia Display

Hallway Seating