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Campus of the California Institute of Technology

Campus historyEdit

The campus in 1922
The campus in 1948
The campus in 1965
The campus in 2007

Caltech's 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located in Pasadena, California, approximately 11 miles (18 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. It is within walking distance of Old Town Pasadena and the Pasadena Playhouse District and therefore the two locations are frequent getaways for Caltech students.

In 1917 Hale hired architect Bertram Goodhue to produce a master plan for the 22 acres (8.9 ha) campus. Goodhue conceived the overall layout of the campus and designed the physics building, Dabney Hall, and several other structures, in which he sought to be consistent with the local climate, the character of the school, and Hale's educational philosophy. Goodhue's designs for Caltech were also influenced by the traditional Spanish mission architecture of Southern California.

During the 1960s, Caltech underwent considerable expansion, in part due to the philanthropy of alumnus Arnold O. Beckman. In 1953, Beckman was asked to join the Caltech Board of Trustees.[1]:282 In 1964, he became its chairman.[1]:275 Over the next few years, as Caltech's president emeritus David Baltimore describes it, Arnold Beckman and his wife Mabel "shaped the destiny of Caltech".[1]:288

The Beckmans made a major gift to Caltech in 1962, when they funded the construction of the Beckman Auditorium, a concert hall designed by architect Edward Durrell Stone. When the circular white stone hall opened with a gala concert on February 25, 1964, it was praised for its acoustics.[1]:289–291[2]

The auditorium was the first of several expansions at Caltech that the Beckmans supported. In 1974, the Beckman Laboratory of Behavioral Biology (BBB) was dedicated.[1]:291 The building was seen as a significant step towards the establishment of a new program focusing on neurobiology and a multi-leveled understanding of brain and its mechanisms at the chemical, cellular, and systems levels.[3]:153–154 On April 25, 1986, the Beckman Laboratory of Chemical Synthesis was dedicated. The Beckmans' gift supported not only the building, but also the installation of state-of-the-art scientific instrumentation in six customized laboratories.[4] Finally, the Beckmans funded the Beckman Institute, a multi-disciplinary center for research in the chemical and biological sciences. In 1986, Beckman agreed to donate $50 million towards the institute and its endowment. Designed by architect Albert C. Martin, Jr. in a Spanish style, the Beckman Institute was dedicated on October 26, 1989, and opened in 1990.[1]:275–290

In 1971 a magnitude-6.6 earthquake in San Fernando caused some damage to the Caltech campus. Engineers who evaluated the damage found that two historic buildings dating from the early days of the Institute—Throop Hall and the Goodhue-designed Culbertson Auditorium—had cracked. These were some of the first reinforced concrete buildings, and their plans did not contain enough details (such as how much reinforcing bar had been embedded in the concrete) to be sure they were safe, so the engineers recommended demolition. However, demolishing these historic structures required considerably more effort than would have been necessary had they been in real danger of collapse. A large wrecking ball was used to demolish Throop Hall, and smashing the concrete revealed massive amounts of rebar, far in excess of safety requirements. The rebar had to be cut up before the pieces could be hauled away, and the process took much longer than expected.

New additions to the campus include the Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics and the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Center for Information Science and Technology, which opened in 2009,[5][6] and the Warren and Katherine Schlinger Laboratory for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering followed in March 2010.[7] The Institute also concluded an upgrading of the south houses in 2006. In late 2010, Caltech completed a 1.3 MW solar array projected to produce approximately 1.6 GWh in 2011.[8]

Notable buildingsEdit

The Millikan Library, the tallest building on campus
The exterior of Ricketts House, typical of the architecture of the 1931 Mediterranean-style South Houses.


The Athenaeum is a faculty club and private social club on the California Institute of Technology campus in Pasadena, California. It was designed by Gordon Kaufmann in the Mediterranean Revival style, with landscape design by Florence Yoch and Lucile Council, and opened in 1930. It includes a restaurant, a private hotel with several named suites (e.g. The Einstein Suite, where Albert Einstein lived while at Caltech), and serves as Caltech's Faculty Club.[9]

Guggenheim Aeronautical LaboratoryEdit

The Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology (GALCIT), was a research institute created in 1926, at first specializing in aeronautics research. In 1930, Hungarian scientist Theodore von Kármán accepted the directorship of the lab and emigrated to the United States. Under his leadership, work on rockets began there in 1936. GALCIT was the first—and from 1936 to 1940 the only—university-based rocket research center. Based on GALCIT's JATO project at the time, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory was established under a contract with the United States Army in November 1943.

In 1961 the GALCIT acronym was retained while the name changed to Graduate Aeronautical Laboratories at the California Institute of Technology. In 2006, during the Directorship of Ares Rosakis, GALCIT was once again renamed, taking on the new name Graduate Aerospace Laboratories of the California Institute of Technology (while continuing to maintain the acronym GALCIT) in order to reflect its vigorous re-engagement with space engineering and with JPL.

Beckman InstituteEdit

The Beckman Institute at Caltech is a multi-disciplinary center for research in the chemical and biological sciences. Founding of the Beckman Institute at Caltech was supported by a major philanthropic gift from the Arnold Orville Beckman and his wife Mabel, through the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. Beckman had a long-term relationship with Caltech as a student, teacher and trustee. After discussions with chemists Harry B. Gray and Peter Dervan, and biologists Eric H. Davidson and Leroy Hood, Beckman announced in 1986 that he would donate $50 million to establish the institute and an accompanying endowment. The Beckman Institute at Caltech was chartered by Caltech in 1987.[10]

The institute building was designed by architect Albert C. Martin, Jr. in a Spanish style with a pool and a central courtyard. It was dedicated on October 26, 1989, and opened in 1990.[10]:339–344 The building included four levels of laboratory space, libraries, and archives.[11]

List of buildingsEdit

This list includes buildings and facilities of California Institute of Technology.[12] The listing does not include off-campus/co-owned properties. Demolished buildings are shown in grey.

Photo Name Built[12] Notes[12] Add'l refs
  Throop Hall 1910 Originally Pasadena Hall. Damaged in the 1971 San Fernando earthquake, demolished in 1973 [13]:28, 204
  Old Dormitory 1910 Constructed elsewhere in Pasadena, moved to Caltech campus in 1915. Demolished in 1962, replaced by Winnett Student Center [13]:143–144
  Parsons–Gates Hall of Administration 1917 Originally Gates Laboratory of Chemistry. The oldest existing building on campus. The 1917 portion of Gates was damaged in the 1971 San Fernando earthquake, and was rebuilt in 1983 as the Parsons-Gates Hall of Administration. Named for C. W. Gates, P. G. Gates, and Ralph M. Parsons.
  Culbertson Hall 1921 Intended to be the east wing of a larger auditorium that was never built. Demolished in 1972, replaced by South Mudd [13]:53–58
  Norman Bridge Laboratory of Physics 1922, 1924, 1925 Named for Norman Bridge
  Steam Laboratory 1925 Demolished in 1996, replaced by Sherman Fairchild Laboratory [13]:71
  Alfred P. Sloan Laboratory of Mathematics and Physics 1925 Originally the High Voltage Research Laboratory, which was retired and rebuilt in 1960 into its configuration as Sloan. The interior was again stripped entirely and remains under renovation as of 2018. Named for Alfred P. Sloan.
  Gates Annex 1927
  Dabney Hall 1928 Named for Joseph B. Dabney
  William G. Kerckhoff Laboratories of the Biological Sciences 1928, 1939, 1948 Named for William G. Kerckhoff
  Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory 1929 Funded by Daniel Guggenheim Fund for the Promotion of Aeronautics
  Athenaeum 1930 The faculty club
  South Houses 1931 Undergraduate houses, including Blacker House, Dabney House, Fleming House, and Ricketts House. Partially renovated in 2006. The Houses are named after Robert R. Blacker, Joseph B. Dabney, Arthur H. Fleming, and L. D. Ricketts. All affiliated with the undergradute House System.
  W. K. Kellogg Radiation Laboratory 1932 Named for Will Keith Kellogg
  Linde + Robinson Laboratory for Global Environmental Science 1932 Formerly Henry M. Robinson Laboratory of Astrophysics, transformed into its current configuration in 2011. Named for Henry M. Robinson and Ronald K. Linde
  Synchrotron Building 1933 Originally the Optical Shop [13]:96–97, 269
Machine Shop 1933 Demolished in 1969, replaced by Downs and Lauritsen Laboratories [13]:96–97, 270
  Crellin Laboratory of Chemistry 1937 Named for Mr. and Mrs. E. W. Crellin
  Charles Arms Laboratory of the Geological Sciences 1938 Named for Charles Arms, father of Mrs. Henry Robinson
  Seeley W. Mudd Laboratory of the Geological Sciences 1938 Also known as North Mudd. Named for Seeley W. Mudd.
  Gates–Thomas Laboratory of Engineering 1945, 1950 Named for Franklin Thomas and Charles Gates Jr.
  Earhart Plant Research Laboratory 1949 Demolished in 1973 [13]:177–9, 270
  Alumni Swimming Pool 1954
  Scott Brown Gymnasium 1954
  Norman W. Church Laboratory for Chemical Biology 1955
  Eudora Hull Spalding Laboratory of Engineering 1957
  Archibald Young Health Center 1957
  Physical Plant Building and Shops 1959
  Gordon A. Alles Laboratory for Molecular Biology 1960 Named for Gordon Alles
  North Houses 1960 Undergraduate houses, including. Lloyd House, Page House, and Ruddock House. All affiliated with the House System.
  Harry Chandler Dining Hall 1960 Named for Harry Chandler
  W. M. Keck Engineering Laboratories 1960 Funded by W. M. Keck Foundation
  Campbell Plant Research Laboratory 1960 Demolished in 1996 [13]:177–9, 270
  Graduate Houses 1961 Originally included Braun House, Keck House, Marks House, and Mosher-Jorgensen House. Keck and Mosher-Jorgensen were converted into the Center for Student Services in 2000 and 2002 respectively. Braun and Marks were temporarily used to house South House undergraduates from 2004-2006 during renovations and were repurposed as house-unaffiliated undergraduate housing in 2006.
  Kármán Laboratory of Fluid Mechanics and Jet Propulsion 1961 Named for Theodore von Kármán
  Firestone Flight Sciences Laboratory 1962 Named for Firestone Tire and Rubber Company
  Winnett Student Center 1962 Demolished in 2017, replaced by Hameetman Center
  Powell-Booth Laboratory for Computational Science 1963 Originally the Willis H. Booth Computing Center, renovated in 1999. Named for Willis H. Booth and Charles Lee Powell
  Beckman Auditorium 1964 Named for Arnold Orville Beckman
  Harry G. Steele Laboratory of Electrical Sciences 1965
  Central Engineering Services Building 1966
  Robert A. Millikan Memorial Library 1967 Named for Robert Andrews Millikan
  Arthur Amos Noyes Laboratory of Chemical Physics 1967 Named for Arthur Amos Noyes
  Central Plant 1967
  George W. Downs Laboratory of Physics and Charles C. Lauritsen Laboratory of High Energy Physics 1969 Named for George W. Downs and Charles Christian Lauritsen
  Keith Spalding Building of Business Services 1969
  Donald E. Baxter, M.D., Hall of the Humanities and Social


1971 Includes Ramo Auditorium, named for Simon Ramo
  The Earle M. Jorgensen Laboratory of Information Science 1971, 2012 Complete renovation in 2012; now Jorgensen Laboratory for sustainability research
  The Mabel and Arnold Beckman Laboratories of Behavioral Biology 1974 Named for Arnold Orville Beckman
  Seeley G. Mudd Building of Geophysics and Planetary Science 1974 Also known as South Mudd. Named for Seeley G. Mudd.
  Clifford S. and Ruth A. Mead Memorial Undergraduate Chemistry Laboratory 1981
  Thomas J. Watson, Sr., Laboratories of Applied Physics 1982 Named for Thomas J. Watson
  Braun Laboratories in Memory of Carl F. and Winifred H. Braun 1982
  Athletic Facility 1984
  Catalina Graduate Apartment Complex 1984, 1986, 1988
  David W. Morrisroe Astroscience Laboratory 1986 Originally the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, renamed in 1995
  Wilson Avenue North Parking Structure 1987
  Beckman Institute 1989 Named for Arnold Orville Beckman
  Braun Athletic Center 1992
  Holliston Avenue Parking Structure/Satellite Utility Plant 1993
  The Gordon and Betty Moore Laboratory of Engineering 1996 Named for Gordon Moore and Betty Moore
  Avery House 1996 Named for R. Stanton Avery. Originally housed a mixture of graduate and upperclassmen undergraduate students with Faculty-in-Residence. Began housing freshmen in 2006. Now affiliated with the House System and houses undergraduates with Faculty-in-Residence.
  Sherman Fairchild Library of Engineering and Applied Science 1997 Funded by Sherman Fairchild Foundation
  Wilson Avenue South Parking Structure 1999
  Financial Services Building 2000
  Broad Center for the Biological Sciences 2002 Named for Eli Broad and Edythe Broad
  California Parking Structure 2005 Located underneath the athletic fields
  Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics 2009
  Walter and Leonore Annenberg Center for Information Science and Technology 2009 Funded by the Annenberg Foundation
  Warren and Katharine Schlinger Laboratory for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering 2010
  The Keck Center 2013 Incorporates the historic Tolman-Bacher House. Funded by the W. M. Keck Foundation.
  Caltech Childcare Center 2014
  Bechtel Residence 2018 Named for Stephen Bechtel Jr.. Unaffiliated undergraduate housing with faculty-in-residence.
  Hameetman Center 2019 Replaces Winnett Student Center.
  Chen Neuroscience Research Building 2020 Named for Tianqiao Chen and Chrissy Chen [14]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Arnold Thackray & Minor Myers, Jr. (2000). Arnold O. Beckman : one hundred years of excellence. foreword by James D. Watson. Philadelphia, Pa.: Chemical Heritage Foundation. ISBN 978-0-941901-23-9.
  2. ^ "Work begins officially on Caltech Auditorium". The Independent (Pasadena, California). 9 January 1962.
  3. ^ Sinsheimer, Robert L. (1994). The strands of a life the science of DNA and the art of education. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520082489. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  4. ^ "Chemical Synthesis: A New Lab Gets it Together" (PDF). Engineering and Science. 49 (5). 1986.
  5. ^ "Quantum leap: Caltech facility combines astronomy, astrophysics". AllBusiness. January 26, 2009. Retrieved July 7, 2010.
  6. ^ "Walter and Leonore Annenberg Center for Information Science and Technology". Caltech. August 10, 2009. Retrieved July 7, 2010.
  7. ^ "Caltech Cuts the Ribbon on Schlinger Laboratory". Caltech. March 9, 2010. Retrieved July 7, 2010.
  8. ^ "Perpetual Energy Systems Activates 1.1 MW Solar Energy System at California Institute of Technology". Business Wire. October 21, 2010. Retrieved October 22, 2010.
  9. ^ Bates, Colleen Dunn; Gillis, Sandy; Ganon, Jill Alison (2006). Hometown Pasadena: The Insider's Guide. Prospect Park Publishing. pp. 46–47. ISBN 9780975393918. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  10. ^ a b Arnold Thackray & Minor Myers, Jr. (2000). Arnold O. Beckman : one hundred years of excellence. foreword by James D. Watson. Philadelphia, Pa.: Chemical Heritage Foundation. ISBN 978-0-941901-23-9.
  11. ^ "Beckman Research Institute California Institute of Technology". AC Martin. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  12. ^ a b c "2012-13 Caltech Catalog". California Institute of Technology. September 2012. pp. 19–25. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-12-24. Retrieved 25 September 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h Wyllie, Romy. (2000). Caltech's architectural heritage : from Spanish tile to modern stone. Los Angeles [Calif.]: Balcony Press. ISBN 1890449059. OCLC 43443758.
  14. ^ "Chen Neuroscience Research Building Update". California Institute of Technology. 2017-07-11. Retrieved 2019-05-26.

External linksEdit