Massachusetts Institute of Technology


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A study of the architecture of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston.

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  1. 1. MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States.
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. • The campus of MIT is located on a 168-acre (68 ha) tract. The campus spans approximately one mile (1.6 km) of the north side of the Charles River basin directly opposite the Back Bay neighbourhood of Boston, Massachusetts. • MIT, founded in the year 1861, has grown considerably since then. It now has five schools and one college, containing a total of 32 academic departments.
  3. 3. LOCATION
  4. 4. LOCATION
  5. 5. CLIMATE • The Climate of Massachusetts is a humid continental climate, with warm summers (average high temperatures in July above 26.7 °C and overnight lows above 15.5 °C) and cold, snowy winters. • The state does have extreme temperatures from time to time with 32.2 °C in the summer and temperatures below 0 °F (-17.8 °C) in the winter not being unusual. • Humidity varies between 40 – 90% • It is widely prone to thunderstorms, tropical cyclones and winter storms.
  6. 6. ACCESSIBILITY • The campus, situated in close proximity to Boston’s Logan International Airport, profits from Boston’s excellent public transportation system and the on-campus Tech Shuttle. • The closest subway station is Kendall Square, which acts as a commercial centre for MIT and the local community.
  9. 9. ARCHITECTURE • The campus includes dozens of buildings representing diverse architectural styles and shifting campus priorities over MIT's history. • MIT's architectural history can be broadly split into four eras: the Boston campus, the new Cambridge campus before World War II, the "Cold War" development, and post-Cold War buildings. • Each era was marked by distinct buildings representing neoclassical, modernist, brutalist, and deconstructivist styles which alternatively represent a commitment to utilitarian minimalism and embellished exuberance.
  10. 10. PROGRAMME • The campus is roughly divided in half by Massachusetts Avenue, with academic buildings to the east and most residential, athletic and community facilities to the west. • Mixed-use developments and research institutes such as Technology Square and University Park at MIT occupy the blocks located just northeast and northwest of the campus. • With MIT’s Evolving Campus initiative, more than 15 new buildings and major renovations are now under way, transforming the area to the north and east ends of the main campus to support key areas of MIT research.
  11. 11. MORPHOLOGY • MIT’s built environment is extremely diverse and characterised by individual structures in progressive architectural styles. • The backbone consists of the original main campus structures from 1916. • However, the strengthening of academic and residential campus life has also required substantial renovation and infrastructure renewal to ensure that historic structures meet the challenges of new ways of learning, working and living. • New buildings reflecting the avant-garde in contemporary architecture present an added complexity within the rational classical framework of the original campus plan. • Finally, a continuous focus on pedestrian circulation routes and public gathering places attempts to integrate new and existing buildings into a coherent urban fabric for an interactive and interdisciplinary community.
  12. 12. SPECIFICATIONS  Campus area: 680,000 /~109,300 sqm  Floor space: 1,013,000 + 149,000 planned / ~213,700 sqm  Number of employees: 10,700 / ~3,500  Number of students: 10,253  Number of residents: 5,213 + 1,000 planned / ~800  Number of companies: 0 / ~15  Number of institutes: 32 MIT
  13. 13. DEVELOPMENT • The original master plan for the MIT campus, designed by William Welles Bosworth, was inspired in part by MIT’s founding philosophy of ‘learning by doing’. • The central group of interconnecting buildings built in 1916 has withstood the test of time and continues to encourage interaction between departments and schools. • The two most striking parts of the original Beaux- Arts complex are Killian Court in front of the Great Dome and the imposing entrance building facing Massachusetts Avenue.
  14. 14. DEVELOPMENT • After World War II, a number of landmark buildings were constructed by renowned architects including Alvar Aalto, Eero Saarinen, and I. M. Pei. • The 1960 Campus Master Plan, developed under the direction of Robert O. Simha, established the ground rules for the campus’s coordinated future development. • The key was the decision to develop a ‘complete campus community’ with academic, research, residential and recreational areas. • MIT was in a favourable position because it was surrounded by former industrial land.
  16. 16. BOSTON TECH (1865 –1910) • Boston's Back Bay neighbourhood was recovered from filled-in marshland along the Charles River over several decades. • A lot bounded on the north and south by Newbury and Boylston streets, and to the east and west by Berkeley and Clarendon streets, was awarded to the Boston Society of Natural History and to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. • The MIT building, later called the Rogers Building, occupied the centre and faced Boylston Street. The building was not opened until 1865 owing to delays because of the Civil War. The five-story Rogers building featured a "grand tetra-style Corinthian portico" modelled on the Duke of Wellington's remodelled Apsley House.
  17. 17. BOSTON TECH (1865 –1910) • MIT quickly outgrew this space as new schools, departments, and laboratories were founded. In 1886, the five-story (original) Walker Memorial building housing the Physics and Chemistry departments was built in the space to the west of the Rogers building. • This original Walker Memorial building, designed by Carl Fehmer, consisted of a more subdued, industrial arcade motif compared to the surrounding fashionable buildings. • After MIT's move to Cambridge in 1916, the original Rogers and Walker buildings were eventually torn down in 1939.
  18. 18. THE NEW TECHNOLOGY (1910- 1940) • A 50-acre (200,000 m2) site in Cambridge, recovered from the Charles River and set amongst dirty factories and tenement housing, was selected for the construction of a new campus. • The site abutted Massachusetts Avenue (which crossed the river on the Harvard Bridge) along which were many newly built neo-classical structures like on the Boston side, with which MIT's new Cambridge campus would have to compete. In Maclaurin's words, "We have a glorious site and glorious opportunities, but our task of design is not made more easy by the great expectations of Boston".
  19. 19. BOSWORTH’S DESIGN • Bosworth's proposal retained many elements of the previous proposals: a large, multi-armed building with room for future expansion and a large central court, but also successfully integrated the dormitories into the rest of the complex. • The campus would be oriented around two major east-west cross axes connecting the western academic half of campus with the residential eastern half of campus. • Each half of campus would in turn be oriented around separate north-south axes, the western oriented its open green space towards the river and Boston while the eastern oriented its track and tennis courts northward into Cambridge.
  20. 20. BOSWORTH’S DESIGN • Bosworth's design was drawn so as to admit large amounts of light through exceptionally large windows on the first and second floors, many internal windows—not only on office doors but above door-level, and skylights over huge stairwells. • However, later revisions began to incorporate more elements originally found in, earlier architect, Freeman's designs such as double- loaded corridors and "open-grid, concrete structure with crossbeams supported by pairs of columns in the middle.“
  21. 21. Maclaurin Buildings and Great Dome (1916) The Maclaurin Buildings comprise Buildings 3, 4, and 10, and form a large U-shaped structure enclosing the section of Killian Court farthest from the Charles River. This is the outdoors area where formal Commencement (graduation) ceremonies occur every May.
  22. 22. Kiillian Court (1916) The Great Court, renamed Killian Court in 1974, faces the river and the Boston skyline and "emphasizes the institution's openness to the urban environment and fulfills Maclaurin's ambition." Killian Court was originally hard-paved, but was converted into a park-like area of grass and trees in the late 1920s. Today, Killian Court is the site of the annual Commencement ceremony, and is otherwise used for studying, relaxing, and playing Frisbee games in good weather.
  23. 23. Walker Memorial (1916) The Memorial (building 50) was to have been designed in a "relaxed classical style with a generous convex portico overlooking the Charles River." However, cost overruns forced the scale of many planned buildings to be altered. A gymnasium, which had previously been separate from the Memorial, was integrated into a combined structure. Today, the gymnasium is used for dance and martial arts classes, as well as for the administration of midterm and final exams for large classes. The ground floor dining area is no longer used as a cafeteria, but remains open for campus functions. Walker Memorial also contains the administrative offices for many MIT student organizations.
  24. 24. Senior House (1916) Senior House (building E2) is an L-shaped building, designed by William Welles Bosworth. The Doric portico over the entrance was added in the 1990s. It has been used since its construction as a dormitory for undergraduates
  25. 25. Gray House (1917) This residence (E1) for the MIT president is located adjacent to Senior House, and cradles inside the elbow of the L-shaped dormitory. The President's House was the last part of the original Bosworth campus to be constructed, and consists of a three-story structure with a simple, rectangular floor plan that incorporates a ballroom on the top floor.
  26. 26. Rogers Building (1939) It (Building 7) is the official address of the entire Institute and serves as the entrance to the Infinite Corridor, the main artery connecting east campus with west campus. The Rogers Building was not a part of the original campus, but was built as a part of MIT's extension of the original Bosworth plan along Massachusetts Avenue. The spacious lobby (called Lobby 7 after its building number) is an impressive vestibule topped by a small dome that rejects the neoclassical tradition of reducing scale between the interior and exterior, with the result that the "inner space remains at the less intimate urban scale."
  27. 27. Alumni Building (1940) The building (57) was one of the first significant examples of modernist, International Style design in the United States by a US trained architect. In 2000, during the building of the adjoining Stata Center, the building was restored and most of the elegant modernist detailing was replaced by clumsy updates. The sophisticated colour palette of the interior floor and walls disappeared. Its walled-in garden to the south was removed altogether and replaced by a more open landscaping. Nonetheless, the building still retains much of its early modernist sensibility, unornamented surfaces and simple functional design.
  28. 28. Building 20 (1942–1996) Building 20 was erected hastily during World War II as a temporary building to house part of the now-historic Radiation Laboratory. Over the course of fifty-five years, its "temporary" nature allowed research groups to have more space, and to make more creative use of that space, than was possible in more respectable buildings. It was later removed to make way for the State Centre.
  29. 29. Rockwell Cage (1947) Rockwell (W33) is currently the official venue for MIT basketball and volleyball, although the space, which spans three and a half basketball courts, is also used for collegiate and non-collegiate tournaments in other sports (such as gymnastics), as well as recreational badminton. The Rockwell Cage is part of the larger, interconnected Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation (DAPER) Complex, which is often referred to collectively as the "Z-Centre.
  30. 30. Baker House (1949) Alvar Aalto, a Finnish architect, designed Baker House (Building W7). It has an undulating shape which allows most rooms a view of the Charles River, and gives many of the rooms a wedge-shaped layout. Baker House has six floors, with rooms for 1–4 people, and features a largely brick interior with wooden furniture and trim. The basement level contains Baker Dining, one of the four residential dining halls on campus, and the only one which is open seven nights a week.
  31. 31. Hayden Memorial Library (1950) The Charles Hayden Memorial Library building (Building 14) is located adjacent to Building 2 along Memorial Drive. Built in response to the Lewis Committee findings, it originally housed all of the humanities faculty, although growth of these departments has since required more space. The building features large 2-story bay-windows overlooking both the Charles River to the south and Eastman Courtyard to the north, as well as high ceilings in the library spaces.
  32. 32. MIT Chapel (1955) Eero Saarinen, a Finnish architect, designed the non-denominational MIT Chapel (Building W15). The chapel exterior consists of a plain brick cylinder 33 feet (10 m) tall, topped with an aluminium bell tower by sculptor Theodore Roszak. The building is encircled by a shallow moat, that defines it as an island of serenity. Reflections from the water bounce up into the interior of the chapel through hidden windows. On the interior, Saarinen created undulating walls that focus on the chapel's altar. The sculptor Harry Bertoia designed the suspended metallic screen behind the altar.
  33. 33. Kresge Auditorium (1955) The Auditorium (Building W16) was intended as a type of university meeting hall, those words being, in fact, inscribed over the entrance. Its domed roof is exactly one-eighth of a sphere. Also designed by Eero Saarinen.
  34. 34. DuPont Athletic Centre and Gymnasium (1959) The DuPont Athletic Centre and DuPont Gymnasium, Buildings W32 and W31, respectively, are located at the east end of the interconnected Main DAPER Complex. Building W31 was originally built as a State Armory, but was later acquired by MIT and converted to a gymnasium in an early example of "adaptive re-use" on the MIT campus.
  35. 35. Hermann Building (1965) The Grover M. Hermann Building (E53) houses Dewey Library and the Department of Political Science. Grover Hermann of the Martin Marietta Company contributed funds for the four- story building set on a plinth. The building has been criticized by its inhabitants for its lack of natural light and "fortress architecture."
  36. 36. Stratton Student Centre (1968) Professor Eduardo F. Catalano proposed a structure (Building W20) that would house meeting and practice rooms as well as commercial areas like a post office, tailor, barbershop, and bowling alley. The proposed building was a monumentally imposing structure representing a high form of brutalism and included large glass windows, balconies, and terraced staircases. Although initially well received, the complex design of the interior, a lack of storage space, heavy use by students, and austere exterior led to a major renovation in the late 1980s.
  37. 37. Green Building (1964) The tower (Building 54) rises 21 stories to 295 feet (90 m), breaking Cambridge's previous 80- foot (24 m) restriction on building height. However, the footprint of every floor measures only 60 by 120 feet (18 by 36m), which research groups quickly outgrew, forcing some of them to disperse elsewhere on campus. The isolated prominence of the building and its relative proximity to the open river basin also increased wind loads at its base, which prevented people from entering or leaving the building through the hinged main doors on windy days.
  38. 38. Dreyfus Building (1970) The Camille Edouard Dreyfus Building (Building 18) houses the Chemistry Department. The linear building parallels Eastman Laboratory (Building 6) to the west, and architecturally evokes a horizontal version of the Green Building tower which rises to its east. The floor plan deviates from MIT's traditional central corridor scheme by placing the laboratory and office space away from the windows by means of exterior corridors. The interior space consists of a research community of graduate students working in laboratory modules at the centre, and faculty offices, lobbies, and teaching areas at each end of the building.
  39. 39. Landau Building (1976) The Landau Building (Building 66) houses the Chemical Engineering Department. It is shaped as a 30-60-90 triangle, with the sharpest point directed toward Ames Street. The unusual shape has earned the building a nickname, "The Triangle Building," deviating from the usual practice of referring to campus buildings by number.
  40. 40. Whitaker College (1982) Whitaker College (Building E25) houses the College of Health Sciences and Technology as well as MIT Medical..
  41. 41. Wiesner Building (1985) The Wiesner building (Building E15) houses the MIT Media Lab and the List Visual Arts Centre. The building is very box-like, a motif that is consistently repeated in both the interior and exterior design evoking a sense of boxes packed within each other. It also has the nickname of the "Inverted Bathroom" due to its tiled exterior.
  42. 42. Stata Centre (2004) The Ray and Maria Stata Center or Building 32 is a 720,000-square-foot (67,000 m2) academic complex designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The building opened for initial occupancy on March 16, 2004. It sits on the site of MIT's former Building 20, which housed the historic Radiation Laboratory, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  44. 44. CAMPUS HOUSING • Undergraduates are guaranteed four-year housing in one of MIT's 12 undergraduate dormitories, Those living on campus can receive support and mentoring from live-In graduate student tutors, resident advisors, and faculty housemasters. • Because housing assignments are made based on the preferences of the students themselves, diverse social atmospheres can be sustained in different living groups; for example, according to the Yale Daily News Staff's The Insider's Guide to the Colleges, 2010, "The split between East Campus and West Campus is a significant characteristic of MIT. • East Campus has gained a reputation as a thriving counterculture.“MIT also has 5 dormitories for single graduate students and 2 apartment buildings on campus for married student families. • MIT has a very active Greek and co-op housing system which includes 36 fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups (FSILGs). • In 2009, 92% of all undergraduates lived on MIT-affiliated housing, 50 percent of the men in fraternities and 34% of the women in sororities. • Most FSILGs are located across the river in the Back Bay owing to MIT's history there, and there is also a cluster of fraternities on MIT's West Campus. • After the 1997 death of Scott Krueger, a new member at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, MIT required all freshmen to live in the dormitory system starting in 2002. • Because FSILGs had previously housed as many as 300 freshmen off-campus, the new policy did not take effect until 2002 after Simmons Hall opened.
  45. 45. McCormick Hall (1963) (Building W4). Although women had been enrolling at MIT since the 1880s, they constituted a tiny minority of the total undergraduate population and lived in a town house across the river. In 1959, MIT released a report, The Woman at MIT, which outlined the need to expand residential and social opportunities for female students. Professor Herbert L. Beckwith was named architect of the project and he proposed a pair of towers on a riverside plot between Memorial Drive and the Kresge Court.
  46. 46. Westgate (1945 & 1963) Westgate (W85) was first established to provide student housing for the large numbers of veterans returning to study after World War II. The demand for housing was unprecedented both in quantity as well as in quality; students often were married and many had children to care for. A temporary community persisted for over a decade before the decision was made to create more-permanent housing for married students. In its current incarnation, completed in 1963, Westgate consists of several low-rise buildings associated with a high-rise tower.
  47. 47. Eastgate (1967) Eastgate (E55) tower was completed and first occupied in August 1967. The building hosts family housing (students with spouses/partners and/or children) as well as a day care center.
  48. 48. Tang Hall (1973) Tang Hall (W84) is organized into small apartment suites on each floor, occupied by unmarried graduate students. The building structure is unusual at MIT, in that it is made of modular reinforced concrete structural elements, prefabricated off- site. On the campus, this method has usually been reserved for free-standing parking garage structures.
  49. 49. Simmons Hall (2002) Simmons Hall has been nicknamed "The Sponge", because the architect consciously modelled the shape and internal structure on a sea sponge. The building has 350 student rooms, 5,538 2-foot square windows, and is constructed of 291 customized precast, steel-reinforced Perfcon panels.
  50. 50. CAMPUS FACILITIES • MIT's on-campus nuclear reactor is one of the most powerful university-based nuclear reactors in the United States. • The prominence of the reactor's containment building in a densely populated area has been controversial, but MIT maintains that it is well-secured. Other notable campus facilities include a pressurized wind tunnel and a towing tank for testing ship and ocean structure designs. • MIT's campus-wide wireless network was completed in the fall of 2005 and consists of nearly 3,000 access points covering 9,400,000 square feet (870,000 m2) of campus. • In connection with capital campaigns to expand the campus, the Institute has also extensively renovated existing buildings to improve their energy efficiency. • MIT has also taken steps to reduce its environmental impact by running alternative fuel campus shuttles, subsidizing public transportation passes, and building a low- emission cogeneration plant that serves most of the campus electricity, heating, and cooling requirements.
  52. 52. LANDSCAPING • As MIT's riverfront site was a marshland filled-in by dredging from the bottom of the Charles, it was largely free from either natural flora or previous occupants. • In 1892, the Cambridge Park Commission had commissioned Frederick Law Olmsted to lay out a picturesque driveway and park along the Charles River that would feature tree- lined promenades and a central mall. • Bosworth's plan would integrate this Memorial Drive (Cambridge) into the campus by using courtyards enclosed and overlooked by the academic buildings. Killian (née Great) Court, the ceremonial main entrance, was originally planned by Mabel Babcock '08 to be a French-style gravel-covered court centered around a large statue of Minerva. • However, as automobile and trolley traffic along Massachusetts Avenue made the western buildings the de facto entrance to MIT, the Great Court was replaced by "street-edge plantings of low privet hedges, a line of oak trees, lawns and base plantings to create a visual transition from the ground level over the English basement to the first floor of the new buildings.“
  53. 53. LANDSCAPING • The New England Hurricane of 1938 and Dutch Elm Disease required that many of the original trees in Killian be replaced by pin oaks. • Temporary buildings constructed during and immediately after World War II occupied many vacant lots around MIT, but the 1960 Campus Master Plan included Hideo Sasaki as a landscape architect. • The Landscape Master Plan called for "tree-lined and landscaped streets and pathways; well- defined open spaces, each reflecting the designs and functions of the buildings in each campus sector; and a variety of tree species to safeguard the campus against the blights that strike monocultures."
  56. 56. CAMPUS ORGANIZATION • Buildings 1–10 (excepting 9) were the original main campus, with Building 10, the location of the Great Dome, designed to be the ceremonial main entrance. • The actual street entrance leads from 77 Massachusetts Avenue into the lobby of Building 7, at the western end of the "Infinite Corridor", which forms the east-west axis of the main group of buildings. • Buildings 1–8 are arranged symmetrically around Building 10, with odd-numbered buildings to the west and even-numbered buildings to the east. • In general, higher numbers are assigned to buildings as distance from the centre of campus increases.