California Institute of Technology Earle M. Jorgensen Laboratory

  • Caltech-exterior
  • Caltech-lab
  • Caltech-lobby

Designed by Quincy Jones in 1971, the original Earle M. Jorgensen Laboratory was a 3-story, concrete structure in need of significant renovation. BuroHappold Engineering was recruited to oversee MEP engineering, sustainability, LEED consulting, and energy modeling for this ambitious project.

Together with John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects, we were tasked with transforming the old building into a cutting edge, sustainable facility for energy science advancement. Primary renovations involved removing oversized sunshades, installing high performance double glazing and introducing a new skylit atrium. We also had to transform office space into wet and dry research laboratories. BuroHappold’s restoration resulted in the improved availability of natural light in the building with increased views to the outside, as well as state of the art energy efficient research space.

The new building achieved LEED Platinum certification and is a demonstration of what can be achieved when presented with challenging conditions in an existing building. The end result was a neutral dual duct HVAC system for all laboratories and offices which is projected to reduce energy consumption by a total of 37% and energy cost by 26%.

The Institute was fully involved and interested in the scientific justifications behind BuroHappold’s design decisions, and shared ideas on new technologies to consider. They also adapted their existing revolving energy fund, which uses projected savings in energy to provide loans for energy efficiency upgrades. In this case they funded the difference between a code minimum building and implemented strategies to save energy. This new, state of the art facility truly embodies the mission of its occupants and provides an inspiring place to conduct research that will shape a more sustainable future.



Key facts

  • Laboratory renovation
  • LEED Platinum certification
  • Neutral duct HVAC system
  • Projected 37% reduction in energy consumption
  • Projected 26% reduction in energy cost

The Project Details

Location: Pasadena, CA

Client: California Institute of Technology

Architect: John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects

BuroHappold Services: MEP engineering, sustainability, LEED consulting, energy modeling, daylighting and lighting design


  • 2013 USGBC Sustainable Innovation Award
  • 2013 American Architecture Award by the Chicago Atheneum and the European Center for Architecture, Art, Design, and Urban Studies

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