HOK designed a complete renovation of Caltech’s 1922 Sloan Laboratory and 1931 Kellogg Building wing to create a new home for the school’s math and physics departments. The renovation included gutting the space to its slabs, linking the two buildings and replacing all mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.
The facility’s physical space had remained largely unchanged since the departments first occupied it in 1960. To understand their needs for new space, the team met with faculty and students during the design process. In addition to influencing the overall look and feel of the new Linde Hall, this collaboration informed specific design decisions, such as chalk holders recessed into the walls, blackboards backed with sound-absorbing material and folding doors that double as whiteboards.
Private and shared offices are intermingled with flexible classrooms, conference rooms and, on the top level, a double-height, 100-seat auditorium. Informal meeting spaces bring math and physics out into the open, with lounge chairs inside the entry and seating niches within hallways that facilitate spontaneous interaction.
Parts of the 1922 facade are preserved at its connection with the 1931 wing housing the new auditorium.
Bold graphics referencing mathematics, splashes of color and an overall feeling of openness make the high-level math and physics taking place here feel less intimidating.