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.