"Some of the stone carvings express the science and technology of a particular discipline. The buildings really represent the academic life, with details like distillation flasks that subtly underscore an arch, a light fixture designed to look like the planet Saturn, and arcade capitals decorated with scientists, aviators, musicians, and sportsmen. They are built for function and to reflect the science," says Wyllie, who will be on hand for a book signing at the Caltech Bookstore, from 3 to 5 p.m., January 13. The book is on sale now at the Caltech Bookstore, Vroman's Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., and Vroman's Museum Collection, 340 S. Lake Ave., in Pasadena. In the spring it will be more widely available at independent and chain booksellers.
Caltech's architectural significance was guaranteed in 1916 when George Ellery Hale persuaded his fellow trustees to hire Bertram Goodhue, one of New York's preeminent architects, to transform 22 acres of Pasadena orange groves into a modern university campus, Wyllie says. Using both contemporary images and rare photos of lost and altered buildings, she traces the architectural development of Caltech from the early 20th century to the present.
Hale wanted a unified campus with architecture that would give technically-minded students an awareness of beauty. The influence of Goodhue's master plan, which incorporates a variety of influences, is still evident today, not only in the sculpture, wrought iron, and ornate tile work that decorate Caltech's older buildings, but in the newer structures that presage a rich architectural future.
"The campus has retained its beauty due to the spirit of the Spanish Renaissance on the old campus and a landscaping scheme which unites the old and the new," Wyllie says.
As with many universities, some aspects of the original master plan never came to fruition. Due to the Depression, World War II and lack of funding, a Taj Mahal-inspired blue domed "memorial building" and long reflecting pool were never built on the southwestern section of campus. The nine-story modern concrete and granite Millikan Library was built in its place many years later.
With 320 images in the 287-page book, Wyllie shares with readers the numerous hidden treasures that dot the campus grounds. Free-standing sculptures include a life-sized bronze of a man (Tenjin, a Japanese poet and statesman) on a water buffalo, which highlights a peaceful olive-tree-shaded garden; a curving outdoor sculpture known as Moore's "Stone Volute," which embraces viewers who stand in its center; and rotating blades of stainless steel called "Water Forms," which produce delicate arcs of water on Millikan Pond.
Wyllie is cofounder of the architectural tour program at Caltech, an honorary Caltech alumna, and the interior designer for Caltech's Athenaeum where elaborately-painted ceilings were recently renovated to emphasize the historical beauty of the 69-year-old building. Wyllie has run her own interior design business for the last 25 years and is a professional member of the International Interior Design Association. She also taught architectural history and interior design at the Harrington Institute of Interior Design in Chicago, and was for six years the managing editor of the University of Chicago's Journal of Geology. Her articles have been published in the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Times, The New Republic, and Pasadena Magazine. Wyllie holds a master of arts degree from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
Founded in 1891, Caltech has an enrollment of some 2,000 students, and an academic staff of about 280 professorial faculty and 130 research faculty. The Institute has more than 19,000 alumni. Caltech employs a staff of more than 1,700 on campus and 5,300 at JPL.
Over the years, 28 Nobel Prizes and four Crafoord Prizes have been awarded to faculty members and alumni, including the Nobel Prize in chemistry awarded to Professor Ahmed Zewail this year. Forty-four Caltech faculty members and alumni have received the National Medal of Science; and eight alumni (two of whom are also trustees), two additional trustees, and one faculty member have won the National Medal of Technology. Since 1958, 13 faculty members have received the annual California Scientist of the Year award. On the Caltech faculty there are 77 fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and on the faculty and Board of Trustees, 69 members of the National Academy of Sciences and 49 members of the National Academy of Engineering.
For more information about the book, click on the following Web page: http://www.caltech.edu/~media/wyllie.