The Earth, Energy & Environment Center opened in January 2018. The 141,000-square-foot interdisciplinary center designed by Gould Evans of Lawrence has auditoriums, classrooms, laboratories, and multipurpose spaces designed to foster collaboration among researchers, scientists, and students in geology, chemical and petroleum engineering, geophysics, energy, nanotechnology, and the environment.
The complex cost $78.5 million, about half provided by private gifts, and comprises two towers connected at their base and by bridges to Lindley Hall on the east and Learned Hall on the west, across Naismith Drive.
The north tower, Ritchie Hall, 1414 Naismith Drive, is named in honor of 1954 KU alumni Scott Ritchie, founder of an oil and gas exploration company, and Carol Ritchie of Wichita, who donated $12 million. It amalgamates teaching and laboratory spaces formerly housed in Lindley, Nichols, and Moore halls and the Interdisciplinary Research Building.
The 162-seat Dixon Auditorium in Ritchie Hall is designed for engaged learning by students and faculty collaborating in class, as are two smaller classrooms. Its laboratories are designed to be easily restructured to meet the needs of new research projects.
The south tower, Slawson Hall, 1420 Naismith Drive, was made possible by a $16 million gift from the family of the late Donald Slawson of Wichita, founder of an oil and gas exploration firm and a 1955 KU graduate. It focuses on technology transfer, providing practical applications for discoveries and developments in engineering and geology.
The Beren Petroleum Center in Slawson is a 232-seat auditorium for small conferences of industry professionals and KU's Kansas Geological Survey, Tertiary Oil Recovery Program, KU Innovation & Collaboration, and other entities. Slawson features smaller glass-enclosed conference rooms and collaborative spaces surrounding the atrium.
A dynamic feature in the atrium is suspended casts of a 45-foot fossilized mosasaur chasing a 5-foot protostega, a precursor of the turtle, through what was a vast inland sea covering Kansas and much of the Great Plains during the Cretaceous era.
The original of the mosasaur fossil was discovered by C.D. Bunker and KU associates in Logan County, KS, in 1911 and has long been displayed at the KU Natural History Museum, The protostega was recovered by KU alumnus and Triebold Paleontology curator Anthony Maltese near Quinter in 2011.
A rock garden between the two buildings features geologic examples from around Kansas. The building was designed to incorporate natural resources, and it features terra cotta exterior panels whose colorations mimic a geologic cross-section of the state.