Campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology occupies a 168-acre (68 ha) tract in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. The campus spans approximately one mile (1.6 km) of the north side of the Charles River basin directly opposite the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts.

MIT central campus, viewed from a helicopter in 2010 over the Charles River

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 building campaigns characterized by, successively, neoclassical, modernist, brutalist, and deconstructivist styles which alternatively represent a commitment to utilitarian minimalism and embellished exuberance.42°21′33″N 71°05′36″W / 42.3591°N 71.0934°W / 42.3591; -71.0934

Campus organization


The geographical organization of the MIT campus is much easier to understand by referring to the MIT map, in online interactive,[1] or downloadable printable form.[2] There is also an MIT Accessibility Campus Map available for download, which is useful for mobility-impaired visitors.[3]

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 center of campus increases.

The east side of main campus has "the 6s", several connecting buildings that end with the digit 6 (buildings 6, 16, 26, 36, 56 and 66, with building 46 across the street from 36). The "30s" series buildings run along Vassar Street on the north side of main campus. Buildings that are East of Ames Street are prefixed with an E (e.g. E52, the Sloan Building); those West of Massachusetts Avenue generally start with a W (e.g., W20, the Stratton Student Center).

Buildings North of the Grand Junction Railroad tracks paralleling Vassar Street are prefixed with N, while those northerly structures that are also West of Massachusetts Avenue are designated with NW. Two buildings at the far west end of campus are designated "WW15" and "WW25". The prefix NE is used for buildings north of Main Street, even for structures actually located due north of other buildings designated with N.

Buildings that are far from the main campus are prefixed OC, for off campus. There are no buildings prefixed with S, since the campus is bordered at its southern edge by the Charles River.

To identify a particular room within a building, the room number is simply appended to the building number, using a "-" (e.g. Room 26–100, a large first-floor auditorium in Building 26). The floor number is indicated in the usual way, by the leading digit(s) of the room number, with a leading digit 0 indicating a basement location and 00 for sub-basement.

The practice of identifying buildings by number is a long-standing tradition at MIT. Although sometimes ridiculed as evidence of an "engineering mindset", and referred to as "a system that disorients outsiders",[4] this system is somewhat logical, and allows members of the MIT community to quickly locate a room they may never have seen before. This numbering system contrasts with the building identification at other nearby colleges. For example, at Harvard University, knowing the location of "Maxwell-Dworkin" will not help in locating "Claverson" or "Larsen"—no matter how many years of experience one may have, one either knows these locations or has no idea where they may be. Under the MIT numbering scheme, community members will know approximately where Building NW95 must be, even if they have never been near there.

Most MIT buildings do have names, which can be found on many maps, or carved near the entrance, molded into a bronze plaque, or lettered onto a glass window. Many buildings are popularly known by name (e.g. "Kresge Auditorium"), even as individual rooms are identified by number (e.g. W16-100). Some locations have dual designations in common use (e.g. "Huntington Hall", also known as "10–250", which is an auditorium located on the second floor, under the Great Dome in Building 10). Building names can also be obtained from either the interactive online or downloadable MIT map.[1][2]

There are numerous minor refinements, tweaks, and exceptions in the room numbering and naming, providing plenty of material for a trivia contest, or for sussing out would-be impostors. The student-written MIT guide How To Get Around MIT (HowToGAMIT) devotes almost 4 pages of small print to details of MIT geography.[5]

Boston Tech (1865–1910)


The original Rogers Building, MIT's first home
A 1905 map of MIT's Boston campus

Boston's Back Bay neighborhood was created from filled-in marshland along the Charles River over several decades. The City of Boston reserved several lots for churches, museums, and other community buildings. 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.

William G. Preston designed three buildings to occupy the site, although the original plan for an "MIT Museum" was never built. The Natural History Society building, completed in 1862, occupied the easternmost third, facing Berkeley Street. The MIT building, later called the Rogers Building, occupied the center and faced Boylston Street. The building was not opened until 1865 owing to delays because of the Civil War.[6] The five-story Rogers building featured a "grand tetra-style Corinthian portico" modeled on the Duke of Wellington's remodeled Apsley House.[6]

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.[6] As Jarzombek suggests, "the choice of this style, even for such a prominent urban space, was clearly MIT's and a testament to its desire to promote the ideals of scientific professionalism."[6] More annexes, given utilitarian names "Engineering Buildings A, B, and C" were designed in the same industrial manner, and built between 1889 and 1900 on a site south of the Trinity Church.[7]

After MIT's move to Cambridge in 1916, the original Rogers and Walker buildings were eventually torn down in 1939 to make way for the New England Mutual Life Insurance Company building.[8] Their sibling structure, the Natural History Society building, has survived to the present day by hosting a succession of retail stores after its original tenant moved to the current location of the Museum of Science Boston in 1951. The city block that originally contained the Engineering Annexes is now the site where the John Hancock Tower stands. Thus, very few physical traces from MIT when it was "Boston Tech" remain in place in their original locations.

The names of Rogers and Walker were both re-applied to new MIT buildings (Building 7 and Building 50, respectively) erected across the Charles River in Cambridge, in 1939 and 1916, respectively.

The New Technology (1910–1940)

MIT Cambridge campus map from 1916 when it moved there from Boston



By the turn of the century, demands for new space for laboratories, offices, housing, and student unions were outstripping the land available in the now-fashionable Back Bay neighborhood, where real estate prices had risen rapidly. Other institutes of technology in Chicago and Pittsburgh, state universities founded under the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act, and private universities like Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, and Stanford were closing the gap on MIT's early lead on laboratory-based education, with large and modern laboratories placed amongst large, park-like campuses.[6] MIT repeatedly resisted overtures from Harvard President Charles William Eliot to merge the schools, and after President Richard C. Maclaurin was elected in 1909, he began to search for sites to relocate the Institute.

A 50-acre (200,000 m2) site in Cambridge, recovered from the Charles River and set amongst dirty factories and tenement housing, was ultimately selected for the construction of a new campus. Thomas Coleman du Pont, a graduate of MIT's Chemistry department, donated $500,000 to be used towards the purchase of the land under a promise from President Maclaurin that the first building constructed would be for Chemistry.[9] The site abutted Massachusetts Avenue (which crossed the river on the Harvard Bridge) along which were many newly built neo-classical structures like Langdell Hall, Christian Science Center Church, and Symphony Hall on the Boston side, with which MIT's new Cambridge campus would have to compete.[10] 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".[10]

Initial proposals

The Great Dome under construction in 1916

Early proposals for the campus came from Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge; Stephen Child; Constant-Désiré Despradelle; and John Ripley Freeman. Shepley's and Child's plans incorporated Georgian Revival styled, L-shaped, brick buildings set on symmetric grass avenues or quads, much like the recently completed Harvard Medical School, but were inappropriately sized for the industrial research that would occur within. Despradelle's Beaux-Arts proposal would have partitioned the campus into separate zones for academic, research, and residential activities, but its World's-Fair-like layout provided insufficient space for laboratories. His later iterations solved the laboratory space problems, but provided uncomfortable proximity and insufficient space for the residences as well as being enormously expensive.[11]

After Despradelle's sudden death in 1912, Freeman's "Study No. 7" was thrust to the fore. His proposal, based on Taylorism, was "one-fifth architecture and four-fifths a problem of industrial engineering." He proposed connecting all departmental buildings to prevent the emergence of academic fiefdoms, to provide protection from bad weather, and to enable efficiencies of scale by building a massive, one million square-foot building incorporating the administrative, teaching, and research functions. The proposed five-story building resembled a large "E" with the base aligned to the river, with "cloistered" courtyards and a pedimented Doric exterior. Freeman also rejected using masonry walls, and proposed using reinforced concrete, a relatively new material that was then thought to be both expensive and unconventional.

President Maclaurin and MIT's executive committee sought to hire an established architect, rather than an ambitious engineer, to design the campus and briefly retained Cass Gilbert before conflicts with a determined Freeman drove him off.[12]

Bosworth's design


Under the advice of John D. Rockefeller Jr., Maclaurin chose Rockefeller's personal architect, MIT graduate William Welles Bosworth, to lead the next round of designs. In no small part, he was chosen because of his willingness to work for clients with strong personal convictions.[13] Bosworth was trained in the Beaux-Arts style and was influenced by the City Beautiful movement which was at its height at the time.[14][15]

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. 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 Freeman's designs such as double-loaded corridors and "open-grid, concrete structure with crossbeams supported by pairs of columns in the middle."[16]

Not all of Bosworth's design was built. His plan for future expansion, which extended the neo-classical corridors in a grid fashion further north,[17] was followed for Building 7 but not for later additions. Interior pedestrian circulation follows parts of the grid pattern, but thru access is not possible on all floors. North-south movement is possible through buildings 7, 9, 33, and 35; and 8, 26, and 36. East-west movement is possible through buildings 9, 13, 12, 16, and 56; and 35, 37, 39, 38, 34, 36, and 32. The 2018 construction of MIT.nano severed the previous north-south passage from building 4 to 12, 24, and 34. There are also semi-grid-like tunnels from building 14 north and east to buildings 18, 54, and 16/56. The exterior appearance of new buildings beyond 7 and 11 is completely different than the original set.

The original plan included dormitory quads on either side of Walker Memorial, which explains why it was surrounded by empty land when it was first constructed.[18] Only the East Campus dorm was built in this area, and as larger parallels rather than a quad. Academic buildings and tennis courts now occupy most of this land, and most newer dorms were actually built or purchased west of Massachusetts Avenue. In the 21st century, new high-rise apartment dormitories for grad students have been built in the Kendall Square area, at the new easternmost extent of the MIT campus.

Maclaurin Buildings and Great Dome (1916)


Killian Court, Building 10, and The Great Dome

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 June, and is the classic view of MIT featured in many publicity photos. The buildings were built in 1913 to 1916 and were designed in the Neoclassical style by William Welles Bosworth. They were named in honor of MIT president Richard C. Maclaurin, who was instrumental in organizing MIT's move from Boston to "The New Technology" campus in Cambridge. The facade of Building 10 is dominated by a colonnade of 10 monumental columns of the classic Ionic order. The Brass Rat, MIT's class ring, features the Building 10 facade on the shank of each ring, including a portrayal of the Great Dome.

The Great Dome,[19] which sits atop Building 10, was adapted from McKim, Mead, and White's Low Memorial Library at Columbia University, which was in turn a loose adaptation of the Pantheon in Rome. The Dome was originally planned to be a cavernous assembly hall, but budget limitations threatened to prevent construction of the Dome altogether. A smaller library – now the Barker Engineering Library – and lecture hall (10–250) instead filled the space. Architectural historian Mark Jarzombek later described the library space as a "capacious oculus [admitting] light into its center, and its perimeter surrounded by a row of Corinthian columns. Four curved topped aedicules [add] a counter-punctual element. More baroque in flavor that what one normally might have expected from Bosworth, the building seems in fact to be an inside-out quotation from Christopher Wren's St. Paul's Cathedral."[20]

Bosworth noted that the columns of the Pantheon's porch are not placed along a straight line, but bow out a bit toward the central axis. This is a classical optical illusion also used in the Parthenon of Athens to make the line of columns appear straight. Bosworth replicated this technique at MIT; to observe it, one has to lie down and sight along the front of the steps.[20]

Based on its psychological and numerical centrality to the main campus of the Institute, members of the MIT community sometimes humorously refer to the Great Dome as "The Center of the Universe".[21]

Killian Court (1916)


Bosworth's plan was notable for rejecting the prevailing conventions of separated buildings and retreat from the urban area, as was found in other new American campuses. The Great Court, renamed Killian Court in 1974 after President James Rhyne Killian, faces the river and the Boston skyline. 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.

Walker Memorial (1916)


Francis Amasa Walker Memorial

Walker Memorial was dedicated to former MIT president (and general) Francis Amasa Walker, a staunch advocate for student life. The Memorial was to have been designed in a "relaxed classical style with a generous convex portico overlooking the Charles River".[citation needed] 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 the top floor of the combined structure. Today, the gymnasium is used for dance and martial arts classes, informal basketball games, and for the administration of midterm and final exams for large classes.[16]

Morss Hall, the ground floor dining area, was formerly used (in the recent past, as of 2004) as a dining hall, but is no longer regularly used as such. It remains open for special campus events, including banquets and formal dances. The walls of this double-height full-floor space are decorated with classical allegorical murals painted by Edwin Howland Blashfield (1869, Civil Engineering), who was one of the best-known American artists and muralists of his time. Completed in 1923 and in 1930, the 5 large panels symbolically portray the role of education in society, and the immense power of science and engineering for both good and evil.[22][23]

Walker Memorial has also contained the administrative offices for many MIT student organizations.[16] Among these organizations is W1MX, the MIT amateur radio society, which has installed several reconfigurable antennas visible on the roof, as well as on the nearby Green Building tower.[24] MIT's Class A broadcast radio station, WMBR (Walker Memorial Basement Radio) has its studios in the basement, with an FM transmitter formerly located atop the Eastgate tower.[needs update][25] The Muddy Charles Pub, administered by the MIT Graduate Student Council, is located on the first floor and has been serving MIT affiliates since 1968.[26][27]

Over time, the Walker Memorial building interior has shown the effects of nearly a century of continuous use without major renovation. There were plans to make it the headquarters of the Music and Theater Arts Department, and to install new theatrical and performance spaces to accommodate a growing number of activities. As of 2015, funds were being raised and an architect had been selected, but no start or completion date had been projected.[28] In March 2017, MIT announced a new Theater Arts Building (Building W97) located at 345 Vassar Street at the far western end of campus. Since the intent of the new building was to consolidate Music and Theater Arts into a single location, the future plans for the Walker Memorial building are unclear.[29]

70 Amherst Street (1916, formerly called Senior House)

Entrance on Amherst Street

Senior House is an L-shaped building, designed by William Welles Bosworth. The Doric portico over the entrance was added in the 1990s. It was used from its construction as a dormitory for undergraduates,[20] until its name was removed and the building was converted to unmarried graduate housing in fall 2017.

From the 1960s to 2017, the dorm had a counterculture that included student-painted murals, tolerance for drug use, acceptance of people who did not fit into mainstream culture (including LGBT students), a tire swing, a red-white-and blue skull logo, the nickname "Haus", and the motto "Sport death, only life can kill you". The annual Steer Roast festival featured loud music, pit roast of a cow, and mud wrestling.[30] Former residents include Roger Dingledine, developer of Tor.[30] In 2016, MIT cited data that 21.1% of Senior House residents failed to graduate, compared to the campus average of 7.7%, and a confidential survey found a higher incidence of drug use than other dorms. The administration began a turnaround project that closed the dorm to freshmen and increased tutoring, mental health, and addiction services. After continued evidence of drug dealing in the building, the administration cancelled the 2017 Steer Roast, and in July announced conversion to graduate housing. Students protested and some faculty supported the move. The murals were covered and remaining undergraduates assigned to other dorms.[30]

Gray House (1917)

Gray House

The Gray House is named after Paul Edward Gray, the fourteenth president of MIT (1980–1990). This residence 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.[20]

Rogers Building (1937)


Building 7 atrium

The Rogers Building, named for MIT founder William Barton Rogers, is the second building of that name, the original having been demolished on its Back Bay site some years after MIT moved to Cambridge. Located at 77 Massachusetts Avenue, it is the official address of the entire Institute and serves as the entrance to the Infinite Corridor, the main pedestrian path 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. It was designed by Bosworth and Harry J. Carlson.[citation needed]

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."[20] The glass oculus at the top was blacked out during World War II but was restored during a renovation in 2000.[citation needed] The School of Architecture and Planning is housed around the dome and the lobby court.

Wartime and post-war buildings (1940–1960)


Alumni Pool (1940)


The Alumni Pool (Building 57) was designed by Lawrence B. Anderson (MArch 1930) and Herbert L. Beckwith (BArch 1926, MArch 1927). The building 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[opinion] updates. The sophisticated color 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.[31]

Building 20 (1942–1996)

Building 20 time capsule to be opened in 2053. Until then, it is on display in the Stata Center, which replaced the older structure.[32]

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. Professor Jerome Y. Lettvin once quipped, "You might regard it as the womb of the Institute. It is kind of messy, but by God it is procreative!"[33][34] Building 20 was always regarded as "temporary", and thus never received a formal name over its half-century of existence. The structure was removed in 1996–98 to make way for the Stata Center. Some of its previous occupants moved into the Stata Center upon its completion, while other "Building 20 refugees" moved to Building N51/N52 or dispersed to other locations on campus.

Westgate (1945 and 1963)


Westgate 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.

Rockwell Cage (1947)


The Rockwell Cage (W33) was designed by Herbert L. Beckwith and opened in 1947. The large structure was originally used by the military for indoor drills, and then declared as surplus. The structure was obtained by then-Athletic Director Ivan J. Geiger before the opening of the DuPont Athletic Center. Geiger was also key in transforming the Cage into MIT's basketball venue.[35]

Rockwell Cage was named for Dr. John Rockwell, MIT class of 1896. He was a top athlete while a student, and returned in 1927 as the president of the Advisory Council for Athletics. Rockwell 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.[36] In the fall of 2006 and 2007, the Rockwell Cage was the venue for the Northeast regional matches in the NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championships.[citation needed]

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-Center.[citation needed]Rockwell is in the center of the complex, and is connected to the DuPont Athletic Center, Zesiger Center, and the Johnson Athletic Center.

Baker House (1949)

Detail of Baker House facade onto the Charles River

Alvar Aalto, a Finnish architect, designed Baker House. 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 six residential dining halls on campus.

Aalto also designed the furniture, much of which was intended to fit in specific rooms in order to maximize the limited space. Several of these furniture pieces were given various animal names. Each resident has a large, wheeled wardrobe (no closets in the brick rooms) called an "elephant" and thigh-high rolling case of drawers called an "armadillo," which fits neatly under the desks. Occupants of the largest singles, called "couches" because they are large enough to accommodate such furniture, also have free-standing sets of shelving called "giraffes." The giraffe is so-named because the piece consists of a pole, which is pressed into the floor and ceiling and thus is position-adjustable, adorned with several shelves that protrude in one direction and only rise to waist height, creating a giraffe-like shape. Many residents choose to flip their giraffes upside-down in order to have more floor space.

Hayden Memorial Library (1950)


The Charles Hayden Memorial Library building 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 rapid growth of these departments has since required much more space. The building features large 2-story bay-windows overlooking both the Charles River to the south and Eastman Court to the north, as well as high ceilings in the library spaces.[37]

In 2020-2021, the first two floors of Hayden Library were completely reorganized and rebuilt to add a cafe, meeting rooms, and spaces for collaborative work. The previously underused outdoors courtyard at the core of the building was better connected and integrated into library functions. The entire first floor is now 24-hour accessible to active members of the MIT community.[38][39]

MIT Chapel (1955)

MIT Chapel

Eero Saarinen, a Finnish architect, designed the non-denominational MIT Chapel. The chapel exterior consists of a plain brick cylinder 33 feet (10 m) tall, topped with an aluminum 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.

Kresge Auditorium (1955)

Exterior of Kresge Auditorium looking west

The Auditorium 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.

DuPont Athletic Center (1903) and Gymnasium (1959)


The DuPont Athletic Center and DuPont Gymnasium, Buildings W32 and W31, respectively, are located at the east end of the interconnected Main DAPER Complex. Building W31, the gymnasium, was originally built in 1903 as a State Armory,[40] but was acquired by MIT in 1957[41] and converted to a gymnasium in an early example of "adaptive re-use" on the MIT campus.

The buildings are named for David Flett DuPont, who contributed a million dollars toward the improvement of athletic facilities, whose bequest also facilitated the building of twelve outdoor tennis courts.[35] DuPont, as the two buildings are collectively known, was the third athletic building constructed on campus, and the second component of what is now the DAPER Complex (often collectively known as the Z-Center).[citation needed] The Athletic Center (W32) is connected to and immediately west of the Gymnasium (W31), and adjacent on the other side to the Rockwell Cage and the Zesiger Center. W32 houses MIT's fencing, pistol, and rifle teams, while W31 is home to gymnastics, volleyball, and wrestling (although they may compete in the Rockwell Cage). The T-club Lounge is located at the DuPont Athletic Center and is the main venue for DAPER exercise classes.[35]

Building W31 was also home to MIT's Venture Mentoring Services, founded in 2000 and located on the 3rd floor, which have since decamped to Building E38 in Kendall Square.[42]

Second Century Fund (1960–1990)


The Second Century Convocation (1961), commemorated the 100th anniversary of MIT's founding charter, and spearheaded a major fund-raising and construction drive. The period between 1960 and 1990 was marked by a drastic increase in the size of the campus, and nearly continuous construction activity, tapering off somewhat in the late 70s and 80s.

Over the years, MIT has made an effort to bring noted architects to campus for particular commissions.

McCormick Hall (1963)

McCormick Hall

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.[43] In 1960, Katharine Dexter McCormick '04 pledged $1.5 million towards the construction of an on-campus female dormitory.

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.[44] Construction required the relocation of a Catholic nursing order, busy parking lot, and existing student housing. Building was broken into two phases: the West Wing was completed in 1963 and the East Wing was completed in 1968. The towers are connected by public spaces like a dining hall, dance studio, and music room at the ground floor.[43] The building has attracted some criticism for its inefficient use of space, but it was renovated in the late 1990s.[43][45]

Hermann Building (1965)


The Grover M. Hermann Building (E53) houses Dewey Library and the Department of Political Science. As the Sloan School of Management expanded like other departments after the war, it quickly faced a shortage of space in its original building at 50 Memorial Drive (E52) which was only acquired in 1952.[46] Professor Eduardo F. Catalano prepared a Sloan Campus Plan incorporating a plaza connecting a new academic building, Building E52, and parking. 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."[46]

Eastgate (1967, demolished c. 2022)

Eastgate Apartments (demolished c.2022)

The reinforced concrete Eastgate (E55) tower was completed and first occupied in August 1967. The building hosted family housing (students with spouses/partners and/or children) as well as a day care center. The tower was topped by a radio antenna mast for MIT's Class A broadcast radio station, WMBR (Walker Memorial Basement Radio, 88.1 FM).[25]

Around 2022, the concrete tower was completely disassembled and removed, to clear the site for construction of "Kendall Site 2" (200 Main Street), a mixed-use lab/office/retail building.[47] Replacement apartment dormitory space for grad students has been constructed nearby, at "Kendall Site 4" (E37, 290 Main Street).[48]

Stratton Student Center (1968)

Stratton Student Center in 2017

Walker Memorial had originally served as the home for many student activity groups for several decades, but the growing post-war student population required the construction of a new and larger building. The first proposals originated in 1955 after the opening of Kresge Auditorium and Chapel had firmly planted MIT's presence on the other side of Massachusetts Avenue. Saarinen was again retained to design the new structure, but was dropped after his proposal met with resistance from faculty and donors.[49]

Professor Eduardo F. Catalano replaced Saarinen in 1961 and proposed a structure that would house meeting and practice rooms as well as commercial areas like a post office, tailor, barbershop, book store, and bowling alley.[49] The proposed building was a monumentally imposing structure representing a high form of brutalism and included large glass windows, balconies, and terraced staircases. The building was approved in 1963 and dedicated to outgoing President Julius A. Stratton in 1965. 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.[49][50]

A strip of stores and offices was on the site of this building until it burnt down in 1961. WGBH's first offices and studios were there, as well as many businesses that catered to MIT students.[51]

In February 2023, a major pipe break caused extensive damage to the interior of the building, requiring its evacuation and shutdown. This accelerated and complicated an existing plan to close the building around June 2023 for a major renovation. The building was only partially re-opened, and then completely closed on April 16, 2023 for renovations.[52]

Buildings designed by I. M. Pei


I. M. Pei & Partners designed a number of MIT buildings, and produced a master plan for the southeast corner of the central campus. Pei was a graduate of MIT's Department of Architecture (BArch 1940).

Green Building (1964)


By the late 1950s, many smaller but rapidly expanding departments were outgrowing their spaces. Professor Robert R. Shrock solicited Cecil H. Green '23, the founder of Texas Instruments, for a new building to house the geology and meteorology departments in a new Center for Earth Sciences. As Bosworth's plans for residential life on East Campus had not been fully realized, many departments had aspirations for utilizing the open space in Eastman Court. Pei and Hideo Sasaki proposed siting a tall building in East Campus and breaking MIT's architectural tradition of "horizontality"[53] The tower has some functional purpose, since its roof supports meteorological instruments and radio communications equipment, plus a white spherical radome enclosing long-distance weather radar apparatus.

The tower 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.[53] 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. Revolving doors were installed at the ground floor entries to ameliorate this problem somewhat. It is incorrectly[54] rumored that Alexander Calder's Big Sail, situated in front of the building, was meant to deflect these winds. The sculpture is situated too far from the building entryway to have much effect on wind velocities there.

The Green Building remains the only academic tower on campus, and faculty insistence as well as logistical realities have continued MIT's previous "horizontal continuity".[53]

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.[55] The floorplan deviates from MIT's traditional central corridor scheme by placing the laboratory and office space away from the windows by means of exterior corridors.[55] The interior space consists of a research community of graduate students working in laboratory modules at the center, and faculty offices, lobbies, and teaching areas at each end of the building. A major renovation to the 132,000-square-foot (12,300 m2) building was completed in 2003.[56]

The surrounding courtyard area is known as Eastman Court.[57] A dozen Adirondack chairs were installed in the court in 2017.[58]

Landau Building (1976)


The Landau Building (Building 66), named in honor of chemical engineer Ralph Landau, 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.[59]

Wiesner Building (1985)


The Wiesner building (Building E15) houses the MIT Media Lab and the List Visual Arts Center and is named in honor of former MIT president Jerome Wiesner and his wife Laya. 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.[60]

The building is notable for the level of collaboration between the architect and artists. It stands apart from the surrounding neighborhood with its flat, gridded skin make of white, modular metal panels. The building's exterior was designed by Kenneth Noland is meant as a metaphor of technology through the grids of graph paper and number matrices while also quoting the corridor-like morphology of the rest of the MIT campus.[60] Scott Burton, Alan Shields, and Richard Fleischner also collaborated extensively in the final design of the internal atria and external landscaping.[60]

McDermott Court

McDermott Court in 2008

McDermott Court is located between the Chemistry, Earth Sciences, the Alumni Houses and the Walker Memorial.[61][57] Students held at peace rally in the court on September 20, 2001, days after the September 11 attacks.[62] Alexander Calder's La Grande Voile (The Big Sail) (1965) is installed in the court.



From MIT Housing Chronology

  • 1960: Burton-Conner Dining Room
  • 1968: Random Hall (NW61) opened. Undergraduate housing.
  • 1970: MacGregor House (W61) first occupied in September 1970. Undergraduate housing.
  • 1973: Tang Hall (W84) first occupied in 1973. Single graduate housing.
  • 1975: New West Campus Houses (W70 – 471–476 Memorial Drive) completed and first occupied in 1975. Undergraduate housing includes Spanish, German, and French Houses.
  • 1981: 500 Memorial Drive (W71) Next House completed and first occupied in August 1981. Undergraduate housing.
  • 2002: Simmons Hall
  • 2021: New Vassar Street Residence Hall (W46) and Graduate Tower at Site 4 (E37)

Tang Hall (1973)

Tang Hall

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.

Whitaker College (1982)

Whitaker College

Whitaker College (Building E25) houses the College of Health Sciences and Technology as well as MIT Medical.

Howard W. Johnson Athletic Center (1981)


The Howard W. Johnson Athletic Center, named for MIT's 12th president,[63] is located at the west end of the interconnected DAPER Complex, immediately adjacent to the Zesiger Center. The entire complex is often referred to as the Z-Center,[citation needed] with Johnson simply referring to one section of the complex. The Johnson Center houses MIT's varsity fencing, ice hockey, tennis, and track & field teams.[63]

The first floor includes a seasonal ice rink, team locker-room and equipment facilities, and athletic trainers' offices and workspace. The ice rink doubles, in the off-season, as an arena which hosts, among other events, the Career Fair and the annual Spring Weekend Concert. The second floor connects to the Zesiger Center's DAPER offices and pool gallery. The third floor consists of an indoor track and field space, including a small weights area,[63] which often must be shared by MIT's spring athletic teams early in the season, as the Cambridge weather tends to be too cold and/or snowy to practice outside. During finals week, the (ice-free) ice rink and indoor track are utilized to administer final exams for large classes requiring the ample space.

Evolving Campus (1990–present)


A major building effort has been underway for several years in the wake of a $2 billion development campaign. For these commissions, MIT brought in leading architects (many of which had no prior connection to MIT) to propose dramatic new buildings to contrast the earlier, more "mundane" buildings.[64] The new buildings have created a good deal of debate, particularly in a city like Boston, which is not known for its contemporary architecture. Critics have both hailed and assailed the prominence of "starchitecture" on campus.[65]

Koch Biology Building (1994)


The Koch Biology Building (also Building 68)[66] is a building named after David H. Koch who donated $100 million to MIT for cancer research.[67][68] It houses research laboratories from the Department of Biology and has 8 floors. The building was completed in 1994 and is designed by Goody Clancy & Associates.[69][70]

Central Utilities Plant (1995)

William R. Dickson Cogeneration Facility

Much of the energy for the MIT campus comes from a Central Utilities Plant (Building 42). Located between Albany and Vassar Streets, this cogeneration facility includes a 21 megawatt ABB GT10A Combustion Turbine Generator and a heat recovery system and produces electricity, steam heat, and chilled water for more than 100 campus buildings. MIT plans to replace the existing turbine, which is nearing the end of its useful life, with two new 22 megawatt units by 2020. Since the cogeneration plant came on line in 1995, MIT estimates it has used one third less fuel than it would have using conventional sources for electricity and steam. The plant is also capable of powering portions of the campus in an emergency.[71]

Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center (2002)

The Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center

The Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center (Z-Center) was designed by Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo & Associates, (2002). It features an Olympic-class, 50-meter by 25-yard, swimming pool, plus a separate 8-lane, 25-yard teaching pool, two levels of weight and aerobic equipment, the multi-purpose Muckley MAC Court, the Folger, Steinman and Jules squash courts, and offices for DAPER staff. It is the home of MIT's water polo, swimming & diving, and squash teams.[72]

The Zesiger Center is connected to the Johnson Athletic Center, the Rockwell Cage, and the DuPont Athletic Center as part of the Main DAPER Complex. However, the entire complex is often referred to as the Z-Center among the MIT community[citation needed] while Johnson, Rockwell, and DuPont refer to areas within the complex.

Simmons Hall (2002)

Simmons Hall

After the alcohol-related death of an MIT freshman living in an off-campus fraternity in 1998, the MIT administration settled the resulting lawsuit under the stipulation that all freshmen be required to live on campus. This resulted in a need for beds for 300 freshmen who previously would have lived in off-campus fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups. Steven Holl and Associates were chosen to lead the design for a new "porous" dormitory in 1999.[73] Simmons Hall opened in August 2002 for student occupancy.

Simmons Hall has been nicknamed "The Sponge", because the architect consciously modeled the shape and internal structure on a sea sponge.[citation needed] The building has 350 student rooms, 5,538 2-foot square windows, and is constructed of 291 customized precast, steel-reinforced Perfcon panels.[73]

Stata Center (2004)

Ray and Maria Stata Center

The architecture of the Ray and Maria Stata Center (Building 32) is some of the most recognizable on MIT's campus. Designed by architect Frank Gehry, the building is built in a Deconstructivist style - it is composed of an eclectic combination of shapes constructed using a range of materials from brick to glass to a variety of architectural metals. The building houses several auditoriums, classrooms, and offices for the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department (Course 6). In particular, the upper floors house research labs and offices of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS), as well as the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy (Course 24). The ground floor of the building offers additional features such as the Forbes Cafe, art installations associated with the MIT Museum, and a campus childcare center; it is also directly connected to the Wang Fitness Center and Alumni Pool (Building 57).

Brain and Cognitive Sciences Building (2006)

Building 46

Building 46, which houses the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, the Department of Brain and Cognitive Science, and the McGovern Institute for Brain Research.

Officer Sean Collier Memorial (2015)


This large, abstract environmental sculpture is a memorial to MIT Police Officer Sean Collier, who was killed in the line of duty on 18 April 2013 in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings. It was conceived, designed, and constructed within two years of Collier's death, and is located on the site of a small landscaped bed between the Ray and Maria Stata Center and the David H. Koch Institute. The memorial consists of 32 massive granite blocks precision-shaped under computer numerical control, and fitted together into a shallow open domed arch with 5 radial support wings splayed out like fingers of an open hand.[74][75]

Lisa T Su Building (2018, MIT.nano)


The new Lisa T Su building, which replaced a previous Building 12, is the home to the MIT.nano facilities intended as a multi-disciplinary research node in nanoscience and nanotechnology.[76] The building contains undergraduate teaching labs used by the Chemistry Department for core curriculum classes,[77] as well as advanced chip fabrication facilities used for semiconductor and nanotechnology research. The central location of the building, plus its administration shared among multiple departments, are intended to ensure equal access to all students and researchers who might benefit from its capabilities.[76]

Much of the building is taken up with environmental control machinery, hazardous chemical safety, and special facilities to support the laboratory work.[78] Special ventilation requirements up to 260 air changes per hour, humidity control, temperature stability, and precision air filtering imply high energy consumption; nevertheless, extensive mitigation and conservation measures have earned the building its LEED Platinum designation.[79][80][81]

The building incorporates a small nano-art gallery along a glassed-in corridor at the periphery of the first floor. A permanent installation there is One.MIT, a mosaic image depicting the MIT Great Dome, formed by etching more than 270,000 names on a 6-inch-diameter silicon wafer. The names of all the people known to be associated with MIT from its founding (1861) to 2018 were incorporated into the etched image, as well as an enlarged 6-foot (1.8 m) image on the wall nearby.[82] An accompanying website has been created to aid in locating individual names within the mosaic images.[83] As of 2020, more than 320,000 names have been identified for an updated online version of the database.[83]

Hockfield Court

Hockfield Court in 2018

In 2019, the North Court[57] was renamed Hockfield Court after MIT's 16th President Susan Hockfield.[84][85] Mark Di Suvero's Aesop's Fables, II (2005) is installed in the court.

New Vassar Street Residence Hall (2021)


Graduate Tower at Site 4 (2021)


Metropolitan Storage Warehouse

This lettering on Building W41 provides an unintentional visual pun when seen from a particular vantage point.

Building W41, 134 Massachusetts Avenue, was built in 1895 and extended in 1911. Until 2015 it was the home of the Metropolitan Storage Warehouse, used to store furniture, household and office items, and archives. MIT has announced plans to convert it for use by the School of Architecture and Planning.[86][87]



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 Keyes Babcock '08 to be a French-style gravel-covered court centered on 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."[88] 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."[88]



The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has hundreds of sculptures and other art-related publicly viewable installations scattered across its campus. The MIT art collection includes major works by Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, Alexander Calder (La Grande Voile (The Big Sail)), Jacques Lipchitz, Dan Flavin, Dan Graham, Sarah Sze, Tony Smith, Theodore Roszak, Harry Bertoia, Jean-Robert Ipousteguy, Auguste Rodin, Anish Kapoor, Mark di Suvero, Louise Nevelson, Sol LeWitt, Frank Stella, Cai Guo-Qiang, and others. Many smaller works of art are visible in offices and hallways, and even residences, under the Student Loan Art Program. The MIT List Visual Arts Center oversees the more than 1,500 works catalogued in the MIT Permanent Art Collection, which can be browsed online.[89]

A self-guided walking tour map of major on-campus art is available from MIT information desks or online,[90] and live guided tours are offered sometimes to the general public. For a number of recent "Public Art Commissions on the MIT Campus", a brochure can be downloaded describing the artwork in detail.[91]

In May 2011, the general public was invited to a weekend FAST (Festival of Art, Science, and Technology) tour of temporary art installations, as part of the MIT 150 celebration of the 150th anniversary of MIT's founding charter. The event was well-attended and popular, inviting the possibility of more such events in the future.[92]

Although not part of the MIT campus, the nearby MBTA subway stop at Kendall Station is the site of the three-piece Kendall Band. This artwork is an interactive sound sculpture which was designed and built by Paul Matisse, grandson of French artist Henri Matisse, and stepson of surrealist artist Marcel Duchamp. The sound sculpture proved so popular that it was frequently worn out or broken, disappointing visitors. In 2010, it was adopted by the "Kendall Band Preservation Society", a group of MIT students and staff who have redesigned and rebuilt some of the broken mechanisms (with the approval of the artist) that made the sculpture operate.[93]

More distant facilities


Affiliated facilities


See also





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