Structure Type: built works - public buildings - assembly halls; built works - public buildings - schools - university buildings

Designers: Stone, Edward Durrell and Associates (firm); Edward Durell Stone (architect)

Dates: constructed 1963-1964

1 story, total floor area: 23,279 sq. ft.

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Pasadena, CA

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Since its completion in 1964, during the height of the New Formalism in architecture, the Beckman Auditorium has occupied a central position on the north side of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) campus. It was designed to be a monumental building, whose round form presented a similarly grand appearance from any angle. Architects Edward Durrell Stone (1902-1978) and Minoru Yamasaki (1912-1986) were the main advocates of this New Formalism, an effort to unify distilled, geometric forms and patterns derived from Islamic and Classical precedents, with geometricism of Modernism. Since its completion, he building has been used for a variety of campus events.

Building History

Dr. Arnold Orville Beckman (1900-2004) and his wife, Mabel Meinzer Beckman (1901-1989) provided a large donation to make possible construction of Beckman Auditorium. Arnold Beckman obtained his Ph.D. from Caltech in 1928, and would go on to become a faculty member and Chairman of the Board of Trustees. In 1935, he began a small company, Beckman Instruments, in Pasadena making pH meters, that grew into the worldwide producer of scientific and medical equipment, Beckman Coulter. New York architect Edward Durrell Stone (1902-1978), who maintained a California office in Palo Alto, CA, got the commission completed in 02/1964. After opening his West Coast office, Stone designed a number of high-profile buildings in CA, including the Stanford University Medical School campus (1959).

In 2012, Beckman could seat 1,150 spectators, in its 60 x 120-foot dimensions. The auditorium's projection booth maintained lighting controls, and projection equipment. Sound was adjusted outside of it. The round building also contained an offstage dressing room, conference room and a basement rehearsal hall. The facility was ADA accessible, with wheelchair access, assistive-listening devices, large-type programs, readers, and ASL interpreters.

The building had the look of a circus tent, round with a conic top. The peripteral colonnade had the trademark Stone-designed columns in which the shaft rises, flows and swells directly into the soffit.

PCAD id: 11899