Keck Institute for Space Studies / Lehrer Architects

Keck Institute for Space Studies / Lehrer Architects

© Benny Chan © Benny Chan © Benny Chan © Benny Chan + 11

  • Architects: Lehrer Architects
  • Area Area of this architecture project Area: 7200.0 ft2
  • Year Completion year of this architecture project Year: 2014
  • Photographs photographs: Benny Chan
  • Interior & Environmental Concepts

    Lehrer Architects
  • Structural Engineers

    John Labib and Associates
  • Civil Engineer

    Barbara L. Hall, PE, Inc.
  • Landscape Architect

    Mia Lehrer + Associates
  • Geotechnical Engineer

    Geocon West, Inc.
  • MEP Engineers

    Westlake Reed Leskowsky
  • Audio Visual Consultant

    Media Systems Design Group
  • Budget

    4.2 million
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© Benny Chan
© Benny Chan

Text description provided by the architects. Design Challenge:

Design and create an environment to facilitate a culture of creativity where scientists and academics from disparate disciplines from around the world meet periodically to contribute to a common cause. Design a hyper-flexible think tank environment that might morph several times a day in the same place

© Benny Chan
© Benny Chan

What kind of a designed environment will increase the participants’ comfort level, enabling them to drop inhibitions and collaborate?

Address the adaptation of the existing Tolman-Bacher House, a Mission-style structure or the addition of a new structure on a seemingly inadequate site area Respond to dramatic differences in scale and style between Mission-style bungalow on one side, and modernist, multistory academic building on the other. Location of site in the heart of the campus mandates a significant contribution to improve the campus’ urbanism

Floor Plan
Floor Plan

Design Relevance:

The relationship of old and new creates a unique opportunity for a courtyard that takes advantage of the Southern California climate and extends the use of the buildings through a unique indoor-outdoor connection.

© Benny Chan
© Benny Chan

It was determined that the restored Tolman-Bacher House, the Mission-style structure, could not adequately meet the needs of the organization so the adjacent, undeveloped lot of land became the starting point for the design of a new Modernist structure.

© Benny Chan
© Benny Chan

Throwaway spaces that were not part of the original brief were leveraged to solve the problem, to create a sanctum in the heart of the campus and promote the significant urban agenda of the campus master plan Architecture and organizational mission conspire to create a place that is a catalyst to encourage affinity amongst individuals.

Diagram 1
Diagram 1

Affinity to the purpose is created by the affinity to the environment Architecturally, an association to the existing structure and the existing outdoor landscape is always present and experienced with the new structure.

© Benny Chan
© Benny Chan

Pending LEED Platinum certification Design Details:

Existing Mission style structure undergoes structural stabilization and is restored to period and readapted from faculty housing to offices and meeting rooms Scale and proportion of new Modernist structure honors the scale of the existing structure and other syntax of other adjacent structures.


_Robust natural light and the ability to control it/block it.

_Strong visual, spatial, physical connection to campus to sense of place, to being in the heart of a quintessential Southern California elite campus.

© Benny Chan
© Benny Chan

_Generous, strategic storage, and easy indoor/outdoor workability, the place can changeover with ease and speed.

_Loggia of the new structure becomes a transitional element uniting the existing structure and outdoor landscape to the new indoor facility with similar paving stones and appropriate scale.

_Garden wall (north side) becomes an additional transitional and compositional element with functional purpose as built-in bench seating.

_Floor to ceiling sliding glass doors expand the lobby and work space into the loggia Angled white boards are bathed in natural light.

Diagram 2
Diagram 2

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Project location

Address: California Institute of Technology, 1200 East California Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91125, United States

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
About this office
Cite: "Keck Institute for Space Studies / Lehrer Architects" 03 Sep 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884
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