Temporary buildings called shacks were a way of life on the UT campus during the first half of the 20th century. These primitive structures were built of wood and tarpaper, and dotted many of the still-open areas of the Forty Acres. They were used for many purposes: housing, classrooms, cafeterias, gyms, and as a convenient way to move malodorous laboratories out of the permanent, multi-use buildings. The first phase of "shackitecture" began in 1911, and ended in 1935, when the last of the original shacks was torn down. Then World War II, and the exploding student population afterwards, ushered in another era of these homely firetraps, which were typically known only by letters of the alphabet.
The Chemistry Department made use of various shacks over the years. One of the first, C Hall, was built in 1911 and used for the freshman chemistry laboratory. The "Tin Shack," or E Hall, which stood on 24th Street just north of the Old Chem Lab, housed the chemical engineering laboratory. The last chemical shack was Dr. Schoch's shed next to the Chemical Engineering Building on Speedway (now the Schoch Building), in which research on acetylene conversion was carried out.
The Shacks served their purpose, but no one was sorry to see them go in the building boom of the 1950s and 60s. Ironically, a space crunch in the 21st century is forcing the university to again set up "temporary" buildings to house displaced labs and classrooms. Is a new era of shackitecture dawning?
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