CBEC: Catalyst for Innovation

Two powerhouse departments.
Two colleges.
One structure optimized for collaborative impact.

From future-focused biomedical innovations to energy-efficient materials research, some of the world’s greatest challenges will be solved here. The CBEC Building:

  • Expands hands-on learning opportunities for students
  • Attracts exceptional faculty and graduate students
  • Facilitates collaborations and partnerships to accelerate discovery
  • Boosts Ohio State’s profile as a leader in 21st Century research  
  • Fuels Ohio’s economy through partnerships with industry

Early this year, researchers in Arts and Sciences’ Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the College of Engineering’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering moved into their new space. Now, it is changing the ways we do research.

From the outside in and the inside out, this building’s novel design of openness, transparency and connectivity provides a welcoming environment that facilitates conversation, interaction and innovation. CBEC is a CATALYST OF INNOVATION — from the basement laboratory wing to the lobby with its wave wall and incredible LED installation by internationally renowned artist Leo Villareal to the Dow Student Lounge on the 6th floor with its sweeping view from campus to downtown.

These visually stunning and inviting spaces are not just equipped to jump-start research teams, the laboratories were specially-built to accommodate the latest instrumentation required for leading-edge research and to be a true catalyst for discovery in the 21st century.

Is Ohio State unusual among the top research schools in the country combining this type of interdisciplinary research and collaboration in a shared setting?

Simply stated: Yes. According to CHRISTOPHER HADAD, divisional dean of natural and mathematical sciences, who has been a part of this project since the beginning.

“When we look at the country’s top 20 or so research institutions, which includes Ohio State, there have been some buildings that combined chemistry with biology but mostly from a teaching point of view. And, there are some engineering buildings with a framework similar to CBEC, such as those at Caltech and UCLA, but they do not combine disciplines,” said Hadad.

“Interdisciplinary activities usually do not involve buildings and coherently designed spaces to enhance collaborations and interdisciplinary research — which is one of CBEC’s goals.

“Will there be even more interdisciplinary grant applications with people working together? Will there be jointly mentored graduate students and postdocs between the two departments? There were already some of those interactions between the 2 faculty groups — I am hopeful that this new building will further facilitate those interactions and that science (and society) will reap great benefits.”  

Explore CBEC


  • A six-story tower for offices and theoretical research connected by bridges to a four-story lab wing with experimental research and teaching spaces
  • Houses the new Koffolt Laboratories, named for former chemical engineering department chairman Joseph Koffolt
  • Transparent floor-to-ceiling glass exteriors with sun-shielding mechanisms to maximize sunlight in winter and minimize in summer

Photo of transparent floor-to-ceiling glass exteriors with sun-shielding mechanisms.


  • Two-story, 140 ft. long “wave wall” of trapezoidal glass panels that enclose the perimeter lobby and lounge spaces at ground level
  • A 71-foot-wide-by 9-foot-tall hexagonal LED light array by internationally renowned artist Leo Villareal
  • Glass wall allowing multi-floor view of the Unit Operations Lab’s high-bay area
  • 20-foot floor-to-celling height accommodates today’s massive, state-of-the-art instrumentation to support intensive research
  • Core Laboratories: Nucleur Magnetic Resonance, Surface Characterization, X-ray Crystallography, Polymer Chemistry, Rheology, Polymer Processing and Biotechnology

Two-story, 140 ft. long “wave wall” of trapezoidal glass panels that enclose the perimeter lobby and lounge spaces at ground level


  • Laboratory neighborhoods on each floor provide research space for 400+ scientists/engineers; include central core of cold rooms, conference rooms, student offices, centralized services and multiple lounges with ample interactive spaces to facilitate research collaborations across disciplines

Laboratory neighborhoods on each floor provide research space for 400+ scientists/engineers.


  • Dow Student Lounge: With spectacular views of campus and downtown Columbus, the lounge features two distinct areas — ­a high-ceiling quiet reading area with window walls and a group collaboration space equipped with large format displays and workstations.

Dow Student Lounge: With spectacular views of campus and downtown Columbus.

Innovation in Action

Several groups of chemistry researchers gladly moved from spaces long-outdated for modern research to a building specifically designed to foster high-powered work. Here’s a look at just a few of the things going on inside CBEC right now to solve critical problems, from biomedical innovations to energy-efficient materials:   

  • Christopher Hadad’s group targets design of novel enzymes for unique function to protect us from the ravages of exposure to toxic agents including pesticides and chemical nerve agents
  •  Joshua Goldberger’s interdisciplinary team seeks ways to control and modulate germanium and tin’s thermal conductance and thermoelectric properties, manipulating them on the atomic level — work that may net new engineering tools for thermal processes including heat-flow control
  • Yiying Wu and his team developed the world’s first solar battery, the KAir Battery, which converts light to electricity using air and creative chemistry. Ultimately, their hope is this technology will be used widely by the power industry, bringing down the costs of renewable energy worldwide

Yiying Wu with the KAir Battery.

  • Barbara Wyslouzil’s aerosol science research has implications for biological and biomedical applications. Her group currently studies formation of new particles from the vapor phase, the internal structure of multi-component particles and further transitions within particles, including crystallization and structural transitions

To support the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry's new building, visit go.osu.edu/give-asc {#312441}.