The laboratory was donated to Lehigh University by John Fritz, Honorary Member of ASCE known as the "father of the steel industry in the United States."
The tests conducted at the laboratory over the years led to new, superior approaches to the design of a wide variety of civil engineering structures.For example, the gates for the locks of the Panama Canal, design procedures for reinforced concrete columns, plastic analysis and design procedures, and the fatigue strength of steel structures were among the many investigations conducted over the years at Fritz Lab. John Fritz came to Bethlehem in 1860, hired by Robert Sayre, general manager of the new Bethlehem Iron Company, to design and build rolling mills and blast furnaces.
and Sayre built the company into the largest manufacturer of steel armor plate and gun forgings in the world.
...The two also worked together on the Lehigh Board of Trustees from the university's founding in 1865 until Fritz resigned in 1897.In 1907 Fritz joined the Board of Trustees to begin the development of what would prove to be his greatest gift to Lehigh.