A LEED Platinum research building dedicated to sustainability is great, but it's even better when it makes use of an existing building like the Resnick Institute for Science, Energy and Sustainability. Caltech's new energy and environmental research building renovated the vacant and fortress-like Jorgensen Laboratory into the ultra efficient space that it is now. The renovation was designed by John Friendman Alice Kimm Architects, who cut away much of the concrete facade, expanded the space and filled it with lots of daylighting and eco-friendly materials.
Originally built in 1974, the Jorgenson Laboratory was a concrete structure outfitted with ‘solar shades’ and a upper terrace that was hardly used and created a dark interior. Underutilized, Caltech sought to renovate the space and find a home for their new Resnick Sustainability Institute as well as The Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis. The Resnick Institute’s mission is to find solutions to create and conserve energy, while the Joint Center’s is a DOE Innovation Hub that seeks to invent a highly efficient photovoltaic panel. To start the renovation, the concrete shades were cut away and the access bridge was removed.
The upstairs level was expanded onto the terrace and new low-e, efficient windows were installed. A skylight was added above the main staircase and a new, sunny entry pavilion was built in front for lounging, special events, and educational presentations. Inside, eco-friendly and renewable materials are used along with a color palette inspired from the colors of the spectrum of visible light. There is a green roof above the pavilion, while the main roof is covered in a white cool roof to reflect sunlight and heat gain. Landscaping surrounding the building is adapted for the region and energy from a campus photovoltaic system is earmarked to offset a portion of the building’s energy use.
Completed in the spring of 2012, the Resnick Institute was awarded with a LEED Platinum certification as well as the Education Architecture Award from the LA Business Council in 2013.
Images ©JFAK Architects