“The renovated building is the site of vibrant collaborative research in its large, bright interaction spaces. A continuing stream of lectures and seminars take place in its modern 110 seat auditorium and 60 seat lecture room. All events in the auditorium are live-streamed, video-recorded and available online. One of the visiting scientists referred to the environment as ‘theory heaven.’”
-Richard Karp, Director of the Simons Institute
UC Berkeley asked STUDIOS to develop design concepts and help prepare the submittal for their bid to house the new branch of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing; the University’s proposal was selected over two other major research institutions. STUDIOS then worked closely with the University and Institute Directors to renovate the existing 1960s three-story Calvin Laboratory Building, now Calvin Hall; the project converted existing wet laboratories into dry spaces for an auditorium with pre-function space, conference rooms, single and shared offices, significant collaboration and break areas, and support spaces.
Working within the existing building was particularly challenging due to its circular shape and fixed core. Prior to renovation, the building housed primarily perimeter offices alongside open lab spaces. We re-appropriated the labs as major collaboration and break out areas, and celebrated existing building elements – such as the circular Unistrut armature and a neglected connecting stair – as well as incorporated new ones, including a skylight on the 3rd floor. Glass-fronted perimeter offices on the 3rd floor allow for views and daylight into the central library/study space.
The design includes two major collaboration areas: the 3rd floor space is designed for individual study and quiet, while the 2nd floor space is geared toward larger groups and meetings, and includes a dining area.
On the ground floor, we created a more inviting main entryway with a presence better suited to a major research institute, and strategically converted lab space into a 110-seat auditorium with pre-function space.
The Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing’s goal is to bring together the world’s leading researchers in theoretical computer science and related fields, as well as the next generation of outstanding young scholars, to explore deep unsolved problems about the nature and limits of computation. In addition to housing top researchers and visiting scholars, the Institute also hosts a number of visitor workshops throughout the year.