Winnett Student Center, Caltech
Pasadena, CA / 2009-
New Hub: This project involves the renovation and expansion of Caltech’s poorly planned and sparsely used student center into an open, active, and flexibly arranged set of spaces that will serve as the social heart of student life on campus. A new elevator and stair core will create fluid connections between all three floors, as well as introduce natural light into previously dark sections of the building. A new circulation system on the second floor will create easy access to a new 2,500 square foot music room
Open space: The ground floor has been transformed into one large open space that runs the length of the structure and is activated by light and people entering from three sides. It is divided into six zones that are clearly defined, but whose activities spill over into each other. They have been conceived with the kind of iconic quality and sense of “place” that will make them clear destinations for students and faculty alike.
Destinations: The six main zones consist of: 1,2) the café’s “Chat Zone” and “Soft Space,” with moveable tables and upholstered booths, respectively; 3) a circulation zone containing a long “Community Table” that encourages social interaction and chance encounters; 4) “The Pit” - the lounge’s sunken conversation area; 5) an adjacent zone of tables wired for computer use called “Webspace;” and finally 6) the “Game Area,” which includes space for table tennis, billiards, and foosball.
Donor Ceiling: Tying together these varied zones is a ceiling of shallow U-shaped wood panels which interlock with the structure’s existing concrete beams. In addition to hiding mechanical and electrical services, they spell out the names of donors for the project.
Dogs and Beer: The student center’s adjacent exterior areas have also been reconfigured to increase options for student activity. Just outside the cafe, the patio has been enlarged and a new set of barbeques has been integrated into a curved landscape wall.
- Principal-In-Charge: John Friedman
Project Team: Bob McFadden, Patrick Conner
- California Institute of Technology