The National School of Chemical Sciences is today a complex of historical buildings in the colonia San Álvaro in Azcapotzalco. The old school faces the México-Tacuba Causeway, just a block and a half to the south. It’s historically connected with the ancient town of Tacuba. It also partly explains the nearness of the old refinery operations of the National Petroleum Industry to the north and west of here.
The complex began hosting the country’s first formal school of chemistry during the Mexican Revolution in 1913. By 1916, the National School of Industrial Chemistry was established here with courses in fats, perfumery, fermentations, tanning and ceramics. In 1917, the school was reorganized as the first Faculty of Chemistry of the National University. The faculty would then play a key role during the expropriation of the oil industry in the 1930s. This relationship continued for decades.
The Faculty of Chemistry remained in Tacuba until the UNAM CU Campus opened a space for Chemistry in 1962. Between 1965 and 1986, the buildings served as a high school. And in 1965, the Instituto Mexicano del Petróleo (Mexican Petroleum Institute – IMP) took over many of the advanced studies in that industry. After 1986, the facilities returned to UNAM who now use them for continuing education and graduate studies work.