Charles C. Gates Jr.–Franklin Thomas Laboratory

Home of the Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering

The renovation of the former Franklin Thomas Laboratory of Engineering ushers in modernization while honoring the lab’s storied past and the people who helped advance mechanical engineering, civil engineering, and applied mechanics at Caltech. The original structure was completed at the close of World War II, when human spaceflight was still years in the future and the idea of nanotechnology had not even been conceived. Today, the updated Gates•Thomas Laboratory provides new laboratories and bright, open spaces where scholars and students can better collaborate and engage in experimental and computational work undreamed of when the building first opened its doors.

The laboratory is named after two devoted stewards of the Institute: Charles C. Gates Jr. (1921–2005), businessman, philanthropist, and longtime Caltech trustee; and Franklin Thomas (1885–1952), civil engineering professor, division chair, and dean of students. The renovation was generously supported by the Gates Frontiers Fund through the vision of Diane G. Wallach and John S. Gates, together with the Fred L. Hartley Family Foundation, James E. Hall (BS ’57) and his wife, Sandy, and Li-San Hwang (PhD ’65) and his wife, Anne.

Caltech’s mechanical and civil engineers have a long history of making our world safer, more dynamic, and more sustainable. In recognition of this work, faculty and alumni of the department have been recognized with some of our country’s highest honors, including the National Medal of Science, the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, and membership in the National Academy of Engineering.

June 2015

Architects: AC Martin

Photo credit: Randall Howard