After Canterbury College’s Chemistry Department had spent thirty-five years in a ‘temporary’ facility known as the Old Tin Shed, a tender for a new building was let in December 1908 for £8,168, the foundation stone was laid on 4 June 1909, and the building was opened on 23 February 1910.
The main stone used was Blue Halswell basalt, with Oamaru limestone for the facings, Hoon Hay basalt for the columns, Timaru basalt for the steps, and patterned blue slate for the roof. The two lower floors were concrete, and the upper floor was constructed of jarrah wood.
The ground floor had the first year laboratory at the west end, and the senior laboratory at the east end. Ground-level windows allowed the basement to have natural light.
The first floor had a lecture theatre seating one hundred, a physicochemical laboratory, a preparation room, a professor’s room, a demonstrator’s room, a collection room, a reading room, and a balance room. The glass store was housed in the large attic.