Aerial Shot of Millikan

Photo courtesy of The Claremont Courier

Full of natural light and space, the beautiful new Millikan Laboratory and renovated Andrew Science Hall are now open for faculty and summer research students. At nearly 75,000-square-feet, Millikan 2.0 houses the mathematics, physics and astronomy departments and is full of innovative technology and features—all built to the highest green standards.

Millikan Staircase
Inside Millikan
Millikan 2.0

The new features include: a digital planetarium with a 360-degree immersive view of the night sky; an 80-100 seat colloquium; a large 50-seat classroom; six math classrooms, including three 30-seat classrooms and an applied math lab; outdoor physics labs; seven physics teaching labs, including a space for the College’s electron microscope; machine, wood and metal shops; a two-story atrium; collaborative study spaces and lounges and a garden courtyard. The striking interior is composed of light wood, expansive windows and floating staircases, and dotted with benches, tables, blackboards and whiteboards.

Professor of Mathematics Johanna Hardin '95 says that the layout facilitates idea sharing.

“In terms of mathematical intellectual pursuits, we are excited about the myriad places for collaborative mathematical work. The students have a common space, which we expect to be used at all hours of the day and night. There are separate research rooms for students doing senior and summer research, as well as for faculty working with colleagues,” says Hardin, who chairs the Math Department.

Professor David Tanenbaum, chair of the Physics and Astronomy Department, says that was the building’s purpose: to enhance teaching and research.

“Research labs will be quiet and stable for high precision measurements using state of the art facilities including an advanced microscopy lab. Student project spaces, modernized shops with a variety of new computer controlled systems, 3D printers and advanced teaching laboratories will enable students to do more than ever before,” says Tanenbaum.

Kelli Rockwell ’17, a physics and computer science double major, says the environment is one that inspires.

“The new labs and workshops are unlike anything I have ever seen, and the surrounding courtyard is quite literally a playground for aspiring physicists like me. On top of that, the place is just inspiringly beautiful, and the labs that were once primarily lit up by computer monitors and sterile, artificial light are now filled with wonderful California sunlight,” Rockwell says.  

The revamped facility is not just for the College community. The digital planetarium—its dome is visible from College Avenue and Sixth Street—offers opportunities for the larger off-campus community, including local schools and organizations, to visit for special events, performances and hold astronomy classes.   

Built to the most stringent of LEED requirements set by the U.S. Green Building Council, the new Millikan will deliver significant energy savings for the College. The old building’s combined forced-air HVAC system has been replaced with decoupled air-handling and heating and cooling systems, using advanced chilled metal beam technology. The building has disconnected outside and inside walls, creating a thermal barrier. Other green features include LED lighting and light sensors; operable windows, with cooling and heating adjusting automatically to open windows; and native landscaping.

The new Millikan was made possible in part by support from regional foundation partners: a grant of $1 million from The Fletcher Jones Foundation named The Fletcher Jones Foundation Digital Planetarium and a grant of $1 million from the Rose Hills Foundation named the beautiful new John C. Argue Auditorium.  

The first Millikan was built in 1958 as part of the Seaver complex of science buildings. However, in recent years it was evident that Millikan was aging, with problems that included a cracked foundation and a structure that did not permit sustainability improvements. While the original intent was to renovate, it was assessed that rebuilding was the most prudent choice, as additional costs would be recouped within five years thanks to energy savings. An homage to history, the atom sculpture from the original Millikan has been preserved and is displayed at the front of the new building.