In 2008, California Institute of Technology created the Ronald and Maxine Linde Center for Global Environmental Science to study global climate change. The Linde Center needed a facility that could bring together faculty from chemistry, engineering, geology, environmental science, and other fields. To house the Linde Center, the institute chose to rehabilitate the Henry M.Robinson Laboratory of Astrophysics building, a 1932 structure on the Caltech campus that served as the site for the construction of the 200-inch telescope on Mount Palomar.
The challenge was to make the 40,000-square-foot building functional for the scientists while maintaining its historic characteristics. Originally designed by Russell Porter in collaboration with Mayers Murray & Phillip, the building reflects its historic function in its structure, as well as in the Spanish eclectic-style cast stone ornamentation, light fixtures, and other decorative details abounding in celestial and solar motifs. The building was designed around a coelostat solar telescope extending through all five stories that was erected for the study of the sun and other astronomical objects.
ARG preserved the historically significant architectural spaces on the first and second floor, which house offices, as well as many of the character-defining details, including flooring, lighting fixtures, and doors. Every effort was made to use sustainable materials within the building, and existing elements were reused as much as possible. Previous renovations had removed historic elements on the ground floor, basement, and two subbasement levels, so they were completely refurbished into new laboratory spaces.
The architects, engineers, and scientists collaborated to repurpose the solar tower, along with its instruments. The coelostat now directs daylight through the shaft into a system of mirrors and fiberoptic cables to provide natural light to the underground floors. The 55-foot-deep pit below the subbasement floor that once held one of the instrument’s mirrors now contains 58,000 gallons of water that is chilled at night and used to cool the building during the day by means of radiant ceiling panels. Native plants and a rainwater capture system minimize water usage.
As a result of these and other green design strategies, the Linde + Robinson Lab represents the first LEED Platinum renovation of an historic lab building and has the lowest energy use of any physical science research lab in the United States. The concrete building’s high thermal mass and small punched windows moderate interior temperatures and limit solar heat gain. Caltech also commissioned the design team to study the existing equipment loads of the users planning to move into the building. By monitoring power use and developing energy-efficient alternatives to existing equipment and practices, the design team was able to reduce plug loads for the facility by more than 50 percent.
+ Project facts
Architect: Architectural Resources Group
Aaron Jon Hyland, AIA
James McLane, III, AIA
Susan McDonald, AIA
Justine M. Leong, LEED BD+C
Location: Pasadena, California
Client: Bradley Smith, California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
Gross square footage: 40,000 sq ft.
Site area: 38,068 sq ft.
Construction cost: $23M
Contractor: Del Amo Construction
Loisos + Ubbelohde
Software used: Autocad, Navisworks
Governor’s Historic Preservation Award, 2012
USGBC|LA – Sustainable Innovation Awards, Project of the Year, 2012
Los Angeles Conservancy, Preservation Award, 2012
Los Angeles Business Council, Green Building Award, 2012?Certified LEED Platinum January 2012
First LEED Platinum Laboratory in an Historic Building
Photographer credit: David Wakely
+ Key materials (type/brand)
Built-up roofing: GAF MATERIALS CORPORATION
Other: Roof Walkway Pads: John Mansville
Metal frame: Torrance 1900 Series
Exterior: Laminated Clear Glass Units by Glaspro Inc w/ XIR 72-47 Interlayer
Skylight Glass: Insulated Glass Unit w/ Solarban 60 by Oldcastle and Azuria Tempered by PPG
Interior: Oldcastle PPG Starphire Laminated Units, Switchable Glass Panels by Polytronix Inc.
Fire-rated: SaftiFirst PYRAN, Platinum F by SCHOTT Technical Glass Solutions
Sun Valley Skylights, Inc.
Metal doors: Door Components, Inc.
Wood doors: Oregon Door
Pocket door: Door Components, Inc.
Access Doors: KARP Associates Inc.
Accordian Door: Modernfold 800M
Locksets: Accurate Lock and Hardware
Closers:LCN and Glynn-Johnson
Exit devices: Von Duprin
Acoustical ceilings: Armstrong
Plastic Ceiling (Clean Rooms only): KEELGRID
Architectural Millwork: JTI Jeffrey Trott Industries, Inc
Paints and stains: Sherwin Williams
Wall coverings: Tech-Wall
Epoxy Resin Flooring: Sika Corporation
Floor and wall tile (cite where used): Restrooms: Bow Tile Corp
Resilient flooring: Forbo and Mannington
Window Shades: MechoShade Systems, Inc.
Laboratory Casework: ISEC, Inc.
Interior ambient lighting: Phillips, Elliptipar
Downlights: Shaper, Ledalite
Task lighting: Lithonia, Philips
Dimming System: Lutron EcoSystem and Quantum
Hydraulic Elevator: Specialized Elevator
Lift Table: Advance Lifts
Instrumentation and Control Devices: ControlWorks, Inc.
Direct Digital Control system: Siemens
Photovoltaic system: Sunflower by Energy Innovations
Hydrogen Fuel Cells: Bloomenergy, and Altergy
Other unique products that contribute to sustainability:
Custom Fiberoptic Fixtures: Loisos + Ubbelohde
Coelostat Automation: Starman Systems
+ All images and drawings courtesy Architectural Resources Group | photo by David Wakely