The $4.35-million renovation of the Mission-style Tolman-Bacher house transformed a 1920s-era residence into a modern, 25,000-sq-ft compound with office and event space for Caltech's board and its Keck Institute for Space Studies.

Repurposing the home required structural stabilization; upgrading interior finishes and room accessibility; and installing energy-efficient building systems. An integrated audiovisual system allows for control of lighting, projection equipment and blackout capabilities from a podium or digital tablet.

When issues with the controls threatened the energy efficiency of a still-experimental variable-refrigerant-flow mechanical system, the contractor and mechanical engineer helped school facility managers troubleshoot causes and ensure functionality. Other challenges included resequencing the construction schedule due to inclement weather and revising the concrete footings after workers discovered previously unidentified utility lines beneath the new building's pad.

The city of Pasadena recognized the project, which seeks a LEED Platinum rating, in a 2014 award to the institute and building team for historic preservation. One judge said the building finishes "are pretty unique for a small project."

Submitted by Driver SPG

Owner California Institute of Technology

Architect Lehrer Architects

Contractor Driver SPG

Engineers Barbara L. Hall (civil); John Labib & Associates (structural); Westlake Reed Leskosky (MEP)

Consultants Geocon West; Mia Leer + Associates; Media Systems Design Group