Mechanical Engineering Research Building

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The Mechanical Engineering Research Building, also called the "Tin Building" and the "Student Competition Center", was planned in Spring 1947. It was originally constructed from parts of an Ordinance Repair Shop during World War II. As of April 2010, the Tin Building has been planned to be destroyed[1]. It is also currently housing GT Off-Road, GT Motorsports, Wreck Racing and RoboJackets.

The Mechanical Engineering Research Building[2]



The Mechanical Engineering Research Building's origin dates back to the founding of Georgia Tech in 1888. At the time, the only major offered at Georgia Tech was Mechanical Engineering. All students were required to take a shop class in trades like blacksmithing, woodworking, machining, and mechanical design. These classes were held in the Old Shop Building. In 1896, the shop requirement was abandoned and the reformed education program, developed by Professor John Saylor Coon, required an experimental laboratory project for graduation. Original research became essential to the program. This developed a need for a building dedicated to mechanical engineering research. As Georgia Tech's reputation grew, the number of students grew and new engineering programs were added. These programs were Civil Engineering in 1896, Electrical Engineering in 1896, and Textile Engineering in 1899. On the corner of Cherry Street and what was known as Kimball Street, the John Saylor Coon Building was built. This building was dedicated to mechanical engineering research. Three events would introduce a need for a second building dedicated to mechanical engineering, namely the Tin Building. First, in 1944, 45 years later, a new president, Colonel Blake R. Van Leer, increased the physical size of the campus. Secondly, World War II ended, so there was a massive influx of new students and Georgia Tech's student body grew significantly. Thirdly, in 1946, a doctoral program in Mechanical Engineering was created at Georgia Tech. With the new land and the increase in research done at Georgia Tech, the Mechanical Engineering Research Building was planned.[citation needed]

In February 1947, the architects created plans for the Mechanical Engineering Building with the requirement to use the materials from the Ordinance Shop. The Ordinance Shop was constructed almost entirely of metal so it would be completely fireproof. Inside the building, there would have been horizontal tracks across its entire length. The original Mechanical Engineering Research Building was comprised of two buildings, the Ordinance Shop and a small classroom with an electronic lab.[citation needed]

The original building was large, containing a single large room with a center section raised about 26 feet above the finished floor. A heated office was built in the southwest corner of the building, though not included in the original design. Bathrooms were built near the southeast corner of the building, and a lumber loft was built in the northwest corner.[citation needed]

Inside the Mechanical Engineering Research Building[3]

Changes over Time

In 1955, a second floor was added to the lower east side of the building with a woman's bathroom, a lounge, three new offices, a laboratory, and a utility room. A new hallway was added and above that were six other offices, a general purpose room, and a lab. Between 1955 and the mid 1960's, the buildings along Plum Street, around the Tin Building, were destroyed except an adjacent classroom building and a parking lot. In 1968, the Weber Space and Science Technology Buildings were completed. These replaced the classroom and parking lot and wrapped around the Mechanical Engineering Research Building to the south and west. In the early 1980's, the lumber loft was replaced with a small workshop.[citation needed]

Original Architects

All architects were part of the Georgia Tech Department of Architecture at the time of construction.

James H. Gailey

Harold Bush-Brown

Paul N. Heffernan[citation needed]


  1. Technique Official Web Site,
  2. A Picture of the Mechanical Engineering Research Building. (11 Novembber 2010). In Library History of Georgia Tech. Retrieved November 11, 2010 from
  3. Inside the Mechanical Engineering Research Building. (11 Novembber 2010). In Library History of Georgia Tech. Retrieved November 11, 2010 from
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