Caltech Starts Work on New Campus Hub, Replacing 50-Year-Old Student Center

In preparation for Hameetman Center, Red Door Café and other facilities in Winnett to move locations.

Published : Tuesday, March 14, 2017 | 5:34 AM

The Red Door Café Credit: Caltech

The Winnett Student Center—home to the Red Door Café, the Caltech Store, the Ticket Office, a recording studio, and a variety of other multiuse meeting and event spaces—has served as a central gathering place for Caltech’s community for more than 50 years.

Now, the Institute is poised to break ground on the construction of a new campus hub to be called the Hameetman Center.

Named in honor of Caltech trustee Fred Hameetman (BS ’62) and his wife, Joyce, who made a $6.2 million lead gift to renovate Winnett in 2012, the Hameetman Center will provide a redesigned flow that will make the building more versatile and functional for today’s campus community. A gift from emeritus professor of theoretical physics Steven Frautschi and his wife, Mie will enable the center to also include a rehearsal hall for the music programs.

A committee was established in the fall of 2012 by the then Vice President for Student Affairs Anneila Sargent to solicit input from the center users and campus community. The committee developed a program plan in 2013-14 that would serve the changing needs of the campus, add the music rehearsal hall and provide better use of the interior space as well as bring the building up to date in terms of technology. Following these discussions and extensive consideration of rehabilitating the existing structure by the architects, the decision was made to demolish the above ground portion of the existing building and construct an entirely new structure. “With this new structure, we will be able to remedy the many limitations of Winnett to provide an attractive and inviting community gathering center as well as provide much needed rehearsal space for our very popular music programs,” says Vice President for Student Affairs Joe Shepherd.

In preparation for the initial demolition of Winnett, which is currently scheduled to begin in late June, the Institute will soon begin relocating many of the services offered in the current building.

The first scheduled relocations, according to Dimitris Sakellariou, assistant vice president for student affairs operations, are the Red Door Café and the Ticket Office.

  • The Red Door will temporarily move, for the duration of the project, to share space with the existing campus convenience store, or C-store. To accommodate this change and upgrade the space to serve these two functions, the C-Store will close for renovations beginning on March 17. The Red Door Café itself will remain open through March 31 and will reopen within the C-Store as soon as the joint renovated space receives city approval. The two facilities will move to a permanent and expanded space within the Hameetman Center when the construction project is finished.
  • The Ticket Office will move permanently to the Keith Spalding Building of Business Services, next to the Post Office Center. The Ticket Office will remain open in its current location until the new facility is ready in early April.

Future temporary relocations will include the Caltech Store, which sells Caltech apparel, memorabilia, technology, and supplies, among other items. According to Sakellariou, the Caltech Store will likely move to the first floor of Millikan Library soon after Caltech’s Commencement ceremonies in June. Planning continues on the logistics and timing associated with relocating many of the other services currently housed in Winnett.

Student Affairs is working with the current users and members of the community in finalizing some aspects of the design, Sakellariou says. The new center will include as an open, versatile lounge and common area on the first floor; a new music rehearsal room, conference room and multipurpose area on the second floor; a recording study, club rooms and storage for the Caltech store on the basement level. An enlarged outdoor space will be provided adjacent to Red Door, which will be located near its present location on the north side of the building.

According to Greg Norden, the project manager for the Hameetman Center, “the key historical elements, of the current building will also be preserved and repurposed.” These include the bricks into which alumni have carved their names and initials and the brass T currently outside the Caltech Store.

The new Hameetman Center is scheduled to open in fall 2018.

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