Cal Tech has an urban campus surrounded by the city-streets of Pasadena. The adjacent neighborhoods pose in a small town way, without high-rises, and with shopping and ethnic restaurants nearby. Buildings are designed along the style of Oxford University in England.
There are eight residences, called Houses, for example Avery House. The students in each form self-governing units. Each has enclosed courtyards, corridors and alley ways, which contribute to a strong sense of privacy and identity.
The interior of these residence halls is basic and looks well used. Students cook their own dinners and serve themselves in the basic, utilitarian kitchens. Many valedictorians and salutatorians get lost in the impressive laboratories. The laboratories in math, physics, astrophysics and geology really appeal to the high school student who was fond of world geography and planetary science in the eighth grade.