Sunday, May 3, 2009

Quote of the day - CalTech gets architecturally funky

“Architecture,” [Thom Mayne] said, “is about making real who we think we are. Astrophysicists deal with a very different reality, but it is a real reality.”

From the CalTech News. CalTech just opened the Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics. It was designed by Thom Mayne, who is a little like Frank Gehry, if you substitute edges and fractures for curves and waves. I like Mayne, he's one of my favorite architects (he's also from LA). I walked by this building on my way to see the Capitol Steps (about whom I will be blogging later), who were performing at CalTech. It's very nice. That's about the limits of my ability to critique architecture. A better analysis, with pictures, is here, at a blog with the great name of "Hello Beautiful". It is, of course, very environmentally responsible, with a Gold LEED rating. Even the address is specially designed:

The building’s distinctive purpose begins with its address at 1216 California Boulevard—1216 being the wavelength, in Angstroms, of a far-ultraviolet line in the spectrum of hydrogen, known as the Lyman alpha line, that for decades has provided observational astronomers with a goldmine of information about a wide range of cosmic phenomena.
Which, of course, is about the best possible reason to choose an address for an astrophysics building. That's certainly the address I would choose.

The general contractor is Hathaway Dinwiddie. Damn, even the builder has a funky name. It's too bad that's a real company, because I would seriously consider stealing that for a character in a movie. That's an even cooler name than Morphosis, Thom Mayne's company. The one issue I have with Mayne is that he graduated from USC - very cool - but is now tenured faculty at UCLA. No one's perfect.

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