The Linde Center

Caltech Linde + Robinson Laboratory for Global Environmental Sciences

The Linde Center is a poster child for the sustainable adaptation of unique buildings for new uses. As befits a Center for Environmental Sciences, the Lab is the first historic laboratory building to be certified LEED Platinum. ARG’s innovative approach and technical solutions successfully marry an elegant historic building with a cutting-edge research facility. After its first life in the 20th century exploring outer space, the building is now in its second life of scientific discovery exploring our own planet.


Designed in 1932 by the Goodhue Brothers, the Center’s exterior features a large bas-relief of the sun; the interior ceilings are elaborately painted with astronomical and zodiac symbols.


For decades, the building hosted Caltech’s astronomers and astrophysicists; here the 200-inch telescope on Mount Palomar was designed and tested.


On completion, the Linde Center was the lowest energy use laboratory in the United States.


The building’s original sun-telescope (coelostat) still tracks the sun and sends daylight deep into the basement lab spaces.


The telescope’s 55-foot deep pit now holds 58,000 gallons of water to serve the cooling system, providing compressor-free cooling most of the year.

Photography by David Wakely

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