Nov. 14, 2019

Contact: Christian Basi, 573-882-4430, BasiC@missouri.edu

COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri officials today announced that, following years of analysis and in consultation with environmental authorities and experts, Pickard Hall will be demolished. Officials said that any future replacement will honor the historical accuracy of the Francis Quadrangle.

“Pickard Hall is one of those buildings that represents the strength and beauty of the University of Missouri,” said Gary Ward, vice chancellor for Operations. “This is not a decision that we have come to lightly and has only been made after years of studying the situation and determining that there was no other alternative.”

This is a picture of Pickard Hall on the MU campus

Pickard Hall on the University of Missouri campus.

In the early 1900s, Pickard Hall housed the Department of Chemistry. During that time, many experiments were completed with naturally occurring radioactive materials, or NORM. Specifically, MU Professor Hermann Schlundt and others studied radium, completing experiments for approximately 20 years in the basement of Pickard Hall. As a result, officials closed off areas in the basement and restricted anyone from entering those areas.

Over the last 50 years, university officials have monitored the building continuously, ensuring that it met the latest in human health safety standards according to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

In the last several decades, changes have been made to environmental regulations as scientists have become more knowledgeable about handling NORM. In 2009, oversight of NORM shifted from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. When that shift happened, university officials began discussing safe and cost-effective actions with the NRC. Over the last 10 years, several ideas have been explored and analyzed.

“This is certainly a tough position for us,” said Hank Stelzer, associate professor of forestry extension and chair of the Campus Facilities Planning Committee. “The building is a key component of the Francis Quadrangle; the demolition is a fiscally responsible solution. We’ve had issues when renovating some of our oldest buildings on campus. This will allow us to rebuild a new structure in the future that preserves the tradition of the quad but also can incorporate the latest technology in a cost-efficient manner.”

This past week, university officials submitted a final plan to the NRC for demolition of the building. When approved, the university will have approximately two years to complete the demolition.

“While the University of Missouri is defined by much more than brick-and-mortar, we know how greatly our students, faculty, staff and alumni value the beauty of our campus and architecture of our buildings,” MU Chancellor Alexander N. Cartwright said. “The Francis Quadrangle is iconic — not just to our university, but to the entire state. We are committed to maintaining the historic nature of the quadrangle, now and in the future.”