2012 PRESERVATION AWARDS
Linde + Robinson Laboratory at Caltech
California Institute of Technology, 1200 E. California Blvd., Pasadena, 91125
Owner: California Institute of Technology
Architect: Architectural Resources Group, Inc.
Landscape Architect: Kornrandolph
Contractor: Del Amo Construction, Inc.
Restoration Contractor: Spectra Company
Structural Engineer: John A. Martin & Associates, Inc.
Mechanical Engineer: Integral Group
Electrical Engineer: IDeAs (Integrated Design Associates, Inc.)
Civil Engineer: VCA Engineers, Inc.
Laboratory Planner: Cannon Copenhagen
LEED Consultant: Davis Langdon, an AECOM Company
Interior Designer: IA Interior Architects
Daylighting Consultant: Loisos + Ubbelohde Associates
Astronomical Software and Hardware Consultant: Richard R. Treffers, Starman Systems, LLC
Signage Consultant: Forsight Creations
Elevator Consultant: Edgett Williams Consulting Group, Inc.
Commissioning Consultant: Taylor Engineering, LLC
Acoustical Consultant: Charles M. Salter & Associates
Waterproofing Consultant: Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
Users: Linde Center for Global Environmental Science, Building Committee
Built in 1932, the Henry M. Robinson Laboratory of Astrophysics at Caltech was designed by the firm of Mayers Murray & Phillip (formerly Goodhue Associates). They collaborated with Russell W. Porter, noted designer of telescopes and observatories in the early twentieth century.
An elegant, monumental structure, the laboratory building uniquely blends elements of the Spanish Colonial Revival style with celestial and solar motifs, down to original light fixtures depicting starbursts and signs of the zodiac. It beautifully conveys its original function, with fine decorative details and stencil decoration by renowned artisans A. T. Heinsbergen and Company.
The laboratory housed Caltech’s astronomers and astrophysicists for nearly eighty years. Among countless achievements made here, Caltech co-founder and renowned astrophysicist George Ellery Hale led the construction of the 200-inch telescope on Mount Palomar.
With a long track record of innovation, Caltech embarked on a project in 2008 to transform the laboratory building to house the new Ronald and Maxine Linde Center for Global Environmental Science, devoted to developing solutions to the world’s complex environmental problems.
Using the building itself as a case study, the project team worked closely with users to design the most energy-efficient, highly advanced laboratory possible. The result is the first-ever LEED Platinum-certified renovation of a historic lab building.
From the beginning, the project team set out to provide an extremely modern, functional setting for the Center’s work while maintaining the building’s rich historic character.
They fully restored the exterior, preserved significant spaces on the first two floors, and refurbished details such as cork flooring, custom light fixtures, fine woodwork, and stenciled decoration.
The massive project not only preserved the building’s unique historic features, it found brilliant new uses for them—particularly the solar telescope, built as the centerpiece of the original building but functionally obsolete. Now it tracks the sun and uses the light it captures for both illumination and exploration.
Mirrors send the sunlight down an original eight-foot-wide shaft all the way through the building, seventy feet below the telescope dome on the roof. The light illuminates workspaces below ground and serves as test subject for scientific analysis. Some of it is even redirected onto a translucent glass window in the first-floor library, creating a real-time image of the sun. What’s more, a former experimental area in a shaft deep underground now stores water for the building’s radiant heating and cooling system.
The project offers many more examples of this combination of technical advances and respect for the past. Caltech’s leadership in preservation, technology, and sustainability is fitting, given its mission. The institute invested in the best people and approaches, resulting in a project that inspires on many levels. It’s also just incredibly cool.
Ronald and Maxine Linde Center for Global Environmental Science (see "Our Building")
The Prodigal Sun Returns: The coelostat in the Linde + Robinson Laboratory
2012 Preservation Award Recipients
May 10 Awards Luncheon Tickets
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