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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Robinson Laboratory of Astrophysics

We're looking down the hallway (facing south, I believe) inside Caltech's Henry M. Robinson Laboratory of Astrophysics. As I mentioned yesterday, its denizens are packing for their move to the new Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics.

The Robinson Laboratory was built in 1930 thanks to an endowment provided by Henry Robinson, an early trustee of Throop Polytechnic, the institution that became Caltech. This building was part of a trio that included a Machine Shop and an Optical Shop. At the time, this was all about building the world's largest telescope at Mt. Palomar, the mirror for which was ground and polished at the Optical Shop. The Machine Shop was torn down in 1969 but the Optical Shop remains, now used for offices of the physics faculty.

I fell in love with the Robinson Astrophysics Lab. It has several charming appointments, including the interior and exterior custom light fixtures. My photo below isn't the greatest--well, neither of these are, frankly, but this was not a tripod tour--but you can pick out the little Saturn shapes on the fixture. I'd love to have it in my house.

Unlike its companion the Machine Shop, this building is not going to be torn down. In fact Barbara, who led me on my Caltech tour, was enthusiastic about plans to repurpose it as the Ronald and Maxine Linde Center for Global Environmental Science. More on that tomorrow when we visit the library at the end of the hall.

For historical information about the buildings I'm indebted to Romy Wyllie's gorgeous book, Caltech's Architectural Heritage, and to Barbara for loaning it to me.

18 comments:

Trish said...

Looks a lot like it did way back when...when I was at CalTech. Well, ok the recycling bins did not exist back then.

Overall, pretty much the same. Cubbies filled with paper, a ladder down the hall, the same lights and shadows.

Glad *some* things don't change!

Laurie said...

This is such a great series, P. I have wanted to explore Caltech for a while -- thanks for doing it for me, complete with historical references!

Great word verification tonight: plogst. (Indeed!)

Shell Sherree said...

I love that light fitting, too, Petrea! I shall graciously concede that you have first dibbs on it, but it's a beauty all right.

altadenahiker said...

I too can't get enough of this series. What becomes of this building when everyone moves --- did I miss that part? You'd have to move me kicking and screaming.

maria said...

were those blue trash cans recycling bins? also i love the light - is that a refelction on the ceiling or are the ceilings textured. i have missed you ms. P - i ended up with bronchitis, but i am all better now...whew!

Margaret said...

Again, I'm agreeing with Shell. That light-fighting is gorgeous.

Susan C said...

I'll get in line behind Petrea, Shell and Margaret for the Saturn light fixture. Stunning!

Petrea said...

I think the bins are part of the move, Trish, as are the boxes on the floor. A bit of upheaval.

Glad you're enjoying it, Laurie!

Thanks, Shell. Looks like there'll be a waiting line. But I don't think it's going anywhere.

Karin, Karin, Karin. Tsk tsk. Please read the penultimate paragraph of my carefully-crafted post.

Glad you're feeling better, Maria. See my note to Trish re the bins. The ceiling is textured, reflecting the light.

We have a line for those fixtures, M & S. There's at least one person in town who could probably make copies if it's legal to do so. I wonder...

Tash said...

Gilded walls and recycling - go hand in hand.
Thanks for the book link - I liked the cover picture.

Leslie in Altadena said...

The first floor corridor and library of the Linde+Robinson Laboratory will be restored. They will be using the solar telescope's pit to bring light and ventilation into the basements as well as part of a water circulation system to keep the building cool. It is supposed to be ready for occupants in the Fall 2010.

This building will meet LEED Gold certification and will apply for the Platinum certificate. Should be very interesting!

More info here: http://newbuildings.caltech.edu/

altadenahiker said...

I simply meant I couldn't wait for tomorrow's update. (It was too, too early. sorry.) But the water circulation system sounds very interesting, and I'm waiting with hands folded in my lap. (My hands.)

Petrea said...

Excellent link, Leslie, thank you.

Sorry, Hiker. I was up early, too, too, too.

pasadenapio said...

I hope you'll give even more Caltech treasures!

Christie said...

Love the reflections on the ceiling!

Ms M said...

Very interesting tour! And wonderful photos. Looking forward to the next installment.

Chuck Pefley said...

Sounds and looks like you've had a fun outing!

Petrea said...

Glad you're enjoying it, folks. I'll finish out the week at the Robinson Lab, then do something else for a while. But I did get lots of pics and will come back to them. The thing about the Caltech campus is you just don't run out of beauty.

Dina said...

But for the bins, it could be a monastery.