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Visiting the former Chemistry Institute building, Liège University, Liège: by Laurent Demany, dating from 1888

Updated on February 19, 2013
Flag of Belgium
Flag of Belgium | Source
Chemistry Institute, Liège
Chemistry Institute, Liège | Source
 View of a boat on the Meuse at Liège, in front of the former Chemistry Institute of Liège University, Roosevelt Quay, Liège
View of a boat on the Meuse at Liège, in front of the former Chemistry Institute of Liège University, Roosevelt Quay, Liège | Source
Quai Roosevelt, Liège
Quai Roosevelt, Liège | Source
Map location of the Liège area
Map location of the Liège area | Source

Echo of Georgian Dublin?

This striking, neo-Classical frontage, with its prime, riverside location, belongs to the former Chemistry Institute (French: Institut de chimie ) of Liège University, Liège, in Belgium's Walloon region (French: Région wallonne ).

This edifice dates from the year 1888.

The architect responsible for the building was Laurent Demany (1827-1898)(1). Features of the stricture include stone facing and familiar, triangular window pediments.

The style of the former Chemistry institute building is quite similar to that of the Main Building of the University at nearby Place du 20 août , with which it is roughly contemporary, although a different architect was responsible for the latter structure.

Today, the building still belongs to Liège University, but it is now occupied by the Faculty of Philosophie and Arts (French: Faculté de philosophie et des arts ). For reasons of space, many of the University's departments of study formerly based in Downtown Liège have moved out to premises on the city's outskirts at Sart-Tilman, and these include the chemistry faculty which formerly occupied the building.

Subjectively, but introducing a personal perspective (I am an alumnus of Liège University), the prime, Meuse riverside location of this striking, neo-Classical structure reminds me of Dublin, where the neo-Classical elevations of various Georgian buildings reflect gracefully from their Liffey-side situations.

The building's history thus represents and encapsulates something of the dilemmas and challenges posed by the 20th century's considerable expansion of opportunities for higher education, when venerable institutions of learning situated in the Downtown core of cities had to come to terms with pressures imposed on the built environment by increasing student numbers. That this fine building continues as a preserved example of neo-Classical architecture still used for academic purposes — if not within the originally envisaged field of study — is a tribute to the manner in which Liège University has successfully harnessed the demands posed by this transition.

Liège is one of Belgium's principal cities, and among its various characteristics it is certainly an academic hub which is both sedate and vibrant.

The Meuse River is one of Europe's great fluvial arteries and for generations now the considerable volume of water-borne traffic, which may variously originate from France and be heading for nearby Maastricht, The Netherlands, has passed the pleasing lines of this, one of the city's most conspicuous riverside buildings.

February 18, 2013



(1) Architect Demany was responsible for various projects at Liège University. He notably designed the music conservatory of the University.

Also worth seeing

In Liège itself, other notable buildings include: the nearby, former Central Post Office building; the 'Perron' steps; the Bueren Mountain; many examples of fine, church architecture; the Fragnée Bridge; the Zénobe Gramme Monument; the former Prince-Bishops' Palace;the Cointe Basilica and many others.


How to get there: Brussels Airlines flies from New York (JFK) to Brussels Airport, where car hire is available (distance from Brussels Airport to Liège : 94 kilometres). The Belgian railroad company SNCB maintains a service from Brussels to Liège . Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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