The 46,000 square foot facility serves as home to participants of the IST Initiative, a program of interdisciplinary research that addresses the growth and impact of information science as it relates to all science and engineering practices. This is the first research and teaching activity in the country that investigates information from all angles: from the fundamental theoretical underpinnings of information to the science and engineering of novel information substrates, biological circuits and complex social systems. Participants in the IST Initiative migrate from all parts of the campus, representing all Colleges of Science and Engineering at Caltech. The aim of the facility is to foster collaboration, research and teaching intrinsic to this new academic discipline.
Caltech is a legacy campus with early 20th Century Mediterranean style buildings by Bertram Goodhue and Gordon Kaufman. The campus has a rich landscape which changes from formal arrangements of olive trees on one side to a more natural landscape of sycamores and eucalyptus around the Centers site. The Annenberg Center is sited at one end of a major campus pedestrian walkway. The campus Master Plan and the nature of the IST initiative called for a contemporary building. We developed a simple glass structure that met the surrounding frontages and height limit. A variety of green and clear glass blends with and reflects the surrounding landscape. Entrances are placed to engage both formal and informal campus circulation. Grand external stairways recall the Mediterranean prototypes on campus while providing for casual encounters and engaging the campus and building users.
The building was planned as an immediately accessible plaza of group teaching, learning and working spaces on the ground level supporting a two story research center. Glass walls make the ground level an active, connected environment. The upper two levels contain faculty and graduate student offices and studios, designed for the project teamwork which is at the core of Caltechs educational and research activities. These flexible studios open onto a two story light well that acts as a town square, furnished for casual gathering, events and study. The upper levels are also interconnected by a two story resident lounge that functions as an updated faculty club with dramatic views of the San Gabriel Mountains and the campus walkway.
Sustainable building practices are a core requirement for the University. FFP integrated green materials and fixtures such as those made from certified wood recycled content, low VOC paints and carpet, waterless urinals, and a white roof system. Stormwater controls were also incorporated into the site through the use of a bioswale and infiltration pit. A great focus was placed on the individual comfort of the professors that will have offices in the IST Center. To accommodate this in a sustainable fashion, FFP incorporated a chilled beam system in these work spaces, which is a localized radiant cooling and ventilation system with individual control that is cost and energy efficient. In addition, operable windows have been included to maximize thermal comfort and personal control. The project is on target to achieve a LEED Gold Rating.