Civil engineering was among the earliest courses taught at KU; electrical engineering was added in 1887, and in 1891 the School of Engineering was founded. Its first dean was Frank O. Marvin, son of third chancellor James Marvin. Departments of chemical, mechanical, mining and architectural engineering were added during his tenure, and in 1927 the school was renamed to Engineering and Architecture. In 1909, Marvin Hall was completed to house the School of Engineering. By the late 1940s, when the new Fowler Shops opened south of Lindley and Marvin halls, an expanded engineering school complex was already planned for what was then the west edge of campus.
The first building in the complex, of yellow-brick and crab-orchard limestone and designed by Brinkman & Hagan, opened in 1963 and was named for Stanley Learned (1902-95), a Lawrence native, 1924 civil engineering graduate and KU benefactor who was president and CEO of Phillips Petroleum Co. in Bartlesville, Okla. The architecture faculty remained in Marvin Hall, and what is now the School of Architecutre & Design was created in 1968.
In 1974 the first of several additions was made, two more floors and a five-story attached building. Learned now houses the departments of aerospace engineering; bioengineering; chemical and petroleum engineering; civil, environmental and architectural engineering; and mechanical engineering; faculty and staff offices; and research and testing labs.