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Caltech Thomas Lab

Pasadena, California

This project was a complete renovation of the Franklin Thomas Laboratory of Engineering building. Built in two phases in 1945 and 1950 with a total of 53,832 gross square feet, it is listed as an historic building in Caltech’s master plan with the City of Pasadena. The team’s goal was to create a state-of-the-art facility improving building infrastructure, image, and creating a variety of collaboration spaces to support research for the Mechanical and Civil Engineering Departments within the Engineering and Applied Science Division.

VAV with reheat in a laboratory environment will use 100% outside air for cooling as well as for ventilation. Occupancy sensors provide unoccupied setback of 2 Air Changes per Hour (ACH). During occupied times, a minimum of 6 ACH will be provided in chemical laboratories.

The fume hood and general lab exhaust are combined to improve the air quality exhausted from the building. Combining exhaust dilutes the worst contaminants; reducing the potential for a health hazard should anyone be exposed to the exhaust air. Mixed-mode natural ventilation is provided to the non-lab spaces via existing historic operable windows.

Size (ft²)



Project Type


Scope of Work

Taylor Engineers provided the controls sequences of operations and was the LEED commissioning authority.




California Institute of Technology


AC Martin


General Contractor - Swinerton Builders
HVAC Contractor - PPC Air Conditioning, Inc.
Controls Contractor - ControlWorks
TAB Contractor - Maritx Air Balance, Inc.


Tom Bonner Photography


Caltech: Tony Parker,
Caltech: Tom Shaffer

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