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Tour Description

Historic Campus 

Participants will be surprised to discover how the original academic buildings and high-tech laboratories of the California Institute of Technology, one of the world’s foremost institutions of science and engineering, created an architectural footprint that relates to the surrounding community. 

After a brief visit to the Athenaeum, Gordon Kaufmann’s Mediterranean eclectic faculty club completed in 1931, the historic tour will explore Caltech’s original campus. Participants will see how Bertram Goodhue using “shaded portals, sheltering walls, and Persian pools” set the tone for a campus of great beauty so that scientists and engineers would become more aware of the aesthetic values of life. 

New Buildings

The tour will start at the Cahill building  (1216 E. California Blvd.) before exploring some of the newer structures and ending at the recently renovated Gates-Thomas Engineering Laboratory. Following World War II, the expanding campus became a microcosm of architectural styles from undecorated boxes to the New Formalism of Edward Durell Stone’s auditorium and the Brutalism of Robert Alexander’s academic structures. 

Although the 1989 Master Plan suggested a Mediterranean theme, the buildings of the twenty-first century reflect current architectural trends seen in Pei, Cobb, Freed’s stainless-steel and travertine Center for the Biological Sciences, and Thom Mayne’s terra-cotta-colored laboratory for Astronomy and Astrophysics


NOTE: This is a strenuous walk and is not suitable for people with strollers, walkers or children. The total distance is approximately 1⅓ miles and includes flights of steps. Both tours last from 1½ to 2 hours. Low-heeled shoes are advised. For information on special needs call (626) 395-4654.