Geochemistry Building Will Expand Knowledge of Earth

December 5, 2007

The 63,000-square-foot structure is designed for high energy efficiency and harmony with its rural landscape along the Hudson River

Lamont director G. Michael Purdy: “This [is] one of the most powerful research laboratory buildings in the world.”

Stephanie Comer, daughter of benefactor Gary C. Comer, cuts the ribbon. L-R: Columbia president Lee Bollinger; Lamont geochemist Wallace Broecker; Earth Institute director Jeffrey Sachs


 November 30, 2007

Amid cheers from hundreds of scientists and guests, Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory cut the ribbon at its $45 million Gary C. Comer Geochemistry Building. The ultra-modern facility is “the step forward that we need to accelerate our efforts to understand and predict the important changes that will impact the way we live with our planet,” Lamont director G Michael Purdy told the crowd. It comes “at a time when, after decades of apathy, humankind is at last awakening to the critical role that the planet’s environment plays in everyone’s well-being.”

Lamont geochemists study of the roles of substances in air, oceans, groundwater, biological remains, sediments and rocks. Since starting out in the kitchen of Lamont’s original building in the 1950s, they have contributed much to modern knowledge, from identifying fundamental processes in earth’s interior, to determining the toxicity of pollutants from the 2001 World Trade Center collapse.

Lamont geochemist Wallace Broecker—for whom a suite of labs is named—provided central evidence of how the oceans interact with changing climate. The late Gary C. Comer, founder of the Lands’ End company, befriended Broecker after recognizing climate change as a vital issue Comer donated $18 million for the building; another $2 million came from Columbia trustee Gerry Lenfest.

To read an article about the opening, click here.