Built in 1932, the Halbouty Geosciences building is home to the department of Geology and Geophysics at Texas A&M University. It is dedicated in remembrance of Michel. T. Halbouty a former student of Texas A&M University. In this building you will find many displays and details of the history of geology and the events and people within in it.
Built in 1932, the Halbouty
Geosciences building is home to the department of geology and geophysics and is
the center for tectonophysics for Texas A&M University. Designed by Samuel C.
P. Vosper, another fellow Aggie, the building was originally called the Petroleum
Engineering and Geology Building. Undergoing renovations in 1972 the building
was updated and eventually named and dedicated after Michel T. Halbouty, an influential
member of Texas A&M University’s past. The Halbouty Geosciences building is
not only a building dedicated in remembrance of Michel T. Halbouty, but it is
also a reminder of the rich history of the Geology and Petroleum Engineering
department at Texas A&M University.
In 1932, the building was built as
an expansion of the growing Geology and Petroleum Engineering departments at
Texas A&M University. Samuel C. P. Vosper, chief designer with the College
of Architecture at the time, was in charge of designing the building along with
9 other buildings that can be found on campus. The building was magnificent in
its design and its representation of the culture and history of these two
departments, it was an automatic landmark. The building stood for more than
just a classroom. It was built as a vessel for communicating the many important
events in geology and Texas A&M’s history.The building contains many details
such as castings of seashells, pebble mosaics, Mexican tile and intricate
Initially, the building featured a
large tower above the recessed doors of the main entrance which was what made
this building stand out. The main entrance features stone panels made of shells
as well as petrified wood and two large doors with intricate ironwork also
incorporating shells and other geologically relevant designs. Once inside, sitting
straight ahead of the main entrance is a life size bronze sculpture of Michel
T. Halbouty holding his first geophysical log from his first well. The main
lobby is full of rich detail, bold colors and memorabilia, hosting many
displays of minerals, rocks and many significant historical events and
discoveries in the subject of Geology and Petroleum Engineering. The walls were
composed of different types of marble, the stained-glass windows were colored
and shaped to represent different minerals and the original ceiling was
stenciled with geometric patterns and geologic symbols. Located on one of the
side entrances is a heroic panel dedicated to the exploration of petroleum, and
next to the building on the same lot is a working oil pump that serves not only
as a display of history, but also as an educational tool used to teach and influence
the many future generations of Petroleum Engineering students at Texas A&M University.
40 years later, in 1972, the first
major renovations to the building had begun. This included the removal of the
tower and the addition of the 60,000 square foot building connected to the back
of the building. The interior was updated as well, removing some of the bold
colors and stenciled ceilings, but these renovations had little effect the
historical and cultural message this building represents. In 1977, the building
was dedicated to Michel T. Halbouty and renamed to what we now know it as, the
Halbouty Geosciences Building.
Michel T. Halbouty graduated with
the Texas A&M class of 1930 with a master’s degree in Geology and Petroleum
Engineering. Six weeks after graduating, he had his first success in striking a
reservoir that was once deemed to be empty. Michel went on to achieve many
great awards and accolades that resulted in the dedication of this building.
Michel was a fine example of the petroleum engineering department and the many
great traditions and morals of Texas A&M University. Michel’s life was dedicated
to geology and petroleum engineering and the Geosciences building represents
just that. The bronze sculpture of Michel located in the lobby of the
Geosciences building depicts him with a proud posture and a look of determination.
Both the building and Michel represent the famed and respected history of
engineering and geology at Texas A&M University.
Michel T. Halbouty was a big component
in Texas A&M’s history. He was the initiative behind the construction of the
George Bush Presidential Library and Museum on campus, another building full of
rich history and culture. It is through the Halbouty Geosciences building that
we are able to physically see, interpret and commemorate the history of geology
at Texas A&M University and the people involved in making it into the field
it is today. As Michel put it, “It is the most beautiful building on campus and
I am proud. The building was named after me, and is going to be there forever” 1.