Luther College

Building Name

Valders Hall of Science

Year Built


Architectural Style

International Style Roof Architecture

Named after a region in Norway as well as a town in Wisconsin, the L-shaped building currently houses the physics, environmental studies, nursing, and psychology departments. Classrooms, offices, function-specific rooms such as an advanced lab, as well as several lecture halls and a planetarium and storage areas, fill the building’s floors. It has the largest lecture hall on campus, seating about 300. Built of a reinforced concrete frame clad with red brick, the stairways are located at the ends of the two wings that form the ell, with the main entrance at the interior intersection of the two. Larger exterior wall expanses have a diamond pattern worked into the masonry. An attached greenhouse has been modified with solid walls and a newer greenhouse is attached. Overall, the smaller windows appear to be replacements, but larger expanses of glazing appear intact. Designed by the local firm of Altfillisch, Olson, Gray, and Thompson, the main entrance is a hallmark of Midcentury Modern design. Two-stories in height, tall brick piers separate the entrance into two bays of glass and white-metal (aluminum?) frames. The piers rise above the roof and terminate in a splayed geometric “capital” made of concrete or covered with a concrete-looking material. Flat canopies of white-metal shelter the entrances. Given its size and stylish 1960s design, Valders is a contributing resource to the historic campus district. At the time of the 2008 construction of Sampson-Hoffland Laboratories, much of the Valders interior was fully reconstructed. One lamentable loss, due to ADA and other safety requirements, was the elegant original parabola-shaped ramp in the central atrium connecting the second stories of the east and west wings. That atrium was in the 1960s and 1970s sometimes used for musical events because of its live acoustics. The distinctive 1980s planetarium wall art piece by Orville Running was preserved during the 2008 building reconstruction.

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