The Simons Institute is housed in Calvin Lab, a dedicated building on the UC Berkeley campus.
Calvin Lab (or "The Melvin Calvin Laboratory") dates back to 1963, and is named in honor of Melvin Calvin (1911–1997), a long-time Berkeley chemist and Nobel laureate who is noted for uncovering the mechanisms underlying photosynthesis in plants. The Lab is a circular, three-story building with large open spaces on its upper two floors, conceived by Calvin as a "laboratory without walls." It continued to serve as a wet lab until Fall 2012, when its repurposing as the home of the Simons Institute began.
Renovations of the lab were completed in August 2013. The Institute worked with the San Francisco office of STUDIOS Architecture on renovations designed to create a beautiful and welcoming space for visitors while preserving the building's historical character. The main ingredients of the renovation include: construction of a new 110-seat Auditorium, reception and gathering area on the first floor; the conversion of the two huge, open laboratory spaces on the upper two floors into interaction areas for collaboration and mingling; the addition of nine new offices on the third floor; and improvement of the portico and outdoor spaces to make them more usable. In keeping with the character of the building and the aim of the Institute to promote collaboration, almost all offices are shared by several people and extensive spaces are provided for small-group discussions. The building is equipped with advanced audiovisual systems for lecture capture, remote collaboration and distance learning.
Pre-renovation: 2nd floor open lab space (becomes café/interaction space)
Post-renovation: 2nd floor café/interaction space
Pre-renovation: 1st floor lab (becomes auditorium)
Post-renovation: pre-function area outside auditorium
Post-renovation: Simons-Berkeley Fellows’ suite
Post-renovation: reception desk