|"Romy Wyllie's history of Caltech's architecture is instructive, tragic, and challenging. It shows us how American architects of the early twentieth century like Goodhue and Kaufmann were able to shape a clear, firm, harmonious environment, a wonderful place, and how their successors later in the century came close to destroying it. Failing one of the Institute's famous explosions, nothing much can be done about the Library, but the architects who are now studying Caltech's future should keep this book in mind. It is the genius of the place that counts, the noble garden."
Sterling Professor Emeritus of the History of Art, Yale University
"A work of immaculate scholarship that is highly readable, this book tells for the first time the fascinating story of the architectural development of Caltech, one of America's greatest academic institutions."
Professor Emeritus of the History of Ideas, Occidental College
"A University's campus--its buildings, its landscaping, its style, embody its history, its aspirations and its relation to the surrounding community. Romy Wyllie's "Caltech's Architectural Heritage" deals perceptively with these elements which provided the physical environment in which Caltech's research and teaching evolved and flourished."
--Dr. Harold Brown
Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, DC
The campus of the California Institute of Technology was destined for architectural greatness when, in 1915, the university's visionary founder, astronomer George Ellery Hale, retained one of New York's preeminent architects, Bertram Goodhue, to devise a master plan for 22 acres of orange groves in what was then rural Pasadena. That elegant plan still resonates in the contemporary oasis of buildings each beautifully, and often whimsically decorated with sculpture, wrought iron, and ornate tile work. Well-known architects Myron Hunt and Elmer Grey in 1910 had begun the original campus buildings in a Spanish Colonial style but it was Goodhue's eclectic "planted patios and shaded portales, sheltering walls and Persian pools" that set the tone for the campus' illustrious architectural future.
Throughout the first half of the century, Caltech's nearly continuous expansion would spawn such architectural jewels as the Athenaeum, a combination Italian villa and Spanish hacienda; Greene and Greene's bungalow-style student union; Dabney Hall, a southwest pueblo decorated in a Mayan theme; and the gardens of landscape architects Beatrix Ferrand and Florence Yoch who thoughtfully mixed the campus' Mediterranean themes with its natural California setting.
Rare photographs of lost and altered buildings portray an early Pasadena with ambitious plans to become a cultural mecca. Contemporary images reflect the Institute's continued dedication to a rich architectural future. Well researched and informative, this book details the organizational and architectural elements that have made Caltech a model for scientific institutions the world over and communicates the inspirational effect the campus' architecture has had on its scientific achievements.
Romy Wyllie is an interior designer and co-founder of the architectural tour service at the California Institute of Technology for which she was named an Honorary Alumna. She previously taught architectural history and interior design at the Harrington Institute of Design in Chicago. For six years she was managing editor of the Journal of Geology at the University of Chicago. Her many published articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, New York Times, and the New Republic.