The Meinel Optical Sciences Building, located on the Mall east of Cherry Street, was built in 1970. In four stories above ground and three below, are a 100-foot vertical test tower; laser beam, glass technology and solar energy laboratories; administrative offices; and classrooms. Financed by a joint lease-purchase agreement between the UA Foundation and the U.S. Air Force, the collaboration provided $5.25 million in research funding and building mortgage payments over a five-year period.
In 1993 the building was dedicated in honor of Aden B. Meinel, founding director of the Optical Sciences Center, which later became the College of Optical Sciences. The sculpture at the building's entrance is the creation of Tucsonan Don Cowen. Originally a two-ton block of pale green Pyrex, it took Cowen two years to cut and shape it into its present four glittering pieces. Cowen never named the sculpture, and will not tell admirers what it represents to him. 'It is many things to as many people,' he says.
Opened in 2006, the building's west wing -- winner of an American Institute of Architects' Honor Award -- added an additional 47,000 square feet to the college's space.