Caltech Athenaeum

Located in a landmark structure designed by Gordon B. Kaufmann, the Athenaeum club at the California Institute of Technology has been providing its 4,000 members with a high-quality social and dining experience since 1930. Although the historic Mediterranean Style-inspired building and its surrounding gardens are sought after for all sorts of events-including the wildly popular summertime Rath Al Fresco outdoor cooking and dining experience- in recent years the Athenaeum’s existing food preparation facilities had become inadequate in size, functionality, and atmosphere for current visitor volume.
FF&P’s design for the addition is a discrete garden pavilion that extends from the existing Athenaeum kitchen wing. Not only does it meet historic preservation guidelines, it also achieves a sense of appropriateness in both form and material. The simple plaster and glass structure draws inspiration from Caltech’s historic architecture—the “X” patterning on the façade recalls ornamental detail found in many campus buildings—but offers a contemporary architectural counterpoint. Large areas of transparency in the façade showcase the bustle of activity in the kitchen, servery, and bar areas, as well as visually connecting the pavilion to the surrounding landscape.