The Eyring Science Center was completed in 1950. In 1954, it was named for acoustic physicist Carl F. Eyring, who worked towards the creation of the building and died shortly after its dedication. Eyring was a popular professor and had served as the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for thirty years. In 1938, while serving as a mission president in New England, he gave a conference report in which he said, “if our Church is to offer the privileges and opportunities so necessary to keep intelligent and dynamic youth interested in religion, we must do our best to offer the facilities and blessings of efficient organization.” He added that “the eyes of thinking men and women are upon us” and encouraged young people to pursue higher education.
The Eyring Science Center was the largest academic building in the state when it was completed, at 167,000 sq. feet. It was the first building at BYU to have an elevator. An underground physics research lab was added on the north side of the building in 1986. The Eyring Science Center underwent extensive remodeling from 1993-1997 in which the interior of the building was completely stripped and rebuilt. These renovations increased the building’s earthquake resistance and updated its fire extinguishing technology. A new dome for the observatory was installed in 2006, replacing the original 1950 dome. It is also home to the Pendulum Court Café, a student-run restaurant.
The fifth and sixth floors of the building comprise the Orson Pratt Observatory, named for the early apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who was also a mathematician and astronomer. The Royden G. Derrick Planetarium was built in 2005 and replaced the outdated Sarah Barrett Summerhays Planetarium. The planetarium currently seats an audience of 115 under a 39-foot dome. The planetarium is used for astronomy classes but offers public shows for a small fee on Monday and Friday nights.
The building currently houses the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, which was established in 1973, and the department of Food Science and Nutrition. The departments offer several community outreach programs, including annual acoustics demonstrations, tours of research facilities, an Astrofest, and open lab days hosted by BYU’s chapter of the American Chemical Society.