Image 1 of 11
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will break ground next spring on a new building to house the MIT Media Lab and the School of Architecture + Planning, the university announced on Tuesday. The 163,000 square-foot building has been designed by Fumihiko Maki, the Pritzker winning architect, and his Maki and Associates firm. Maki is known for innovative airy open floor plans designed to induce social interaction.
This model shows what the south side of the building, whose upper floors will overlook the Charles River, will look like.
The Media Lab expansion will be adjacent and attached to the Weisner building (shown here), current home of the MIT Media Lab, whose research has yielded technologies such as a wearable computer, mesh networks and the $100 laptop. The Weisner building, named for the MIT president who founded the Media Lab along with Nicholas Negroponte, was designed by architect I.M. Pei (also an MIT alumnus).
rnIn addition to various Media Lab groups, the two buildings together will house the List Visual Arts Center, the School of Architecture and Planning’s Design Lab and Center for Advanced Visual Studies, the Deptartment of Architecture’s Visual Arts Program and the Comparative Media Studies program. It will also hold the Okawa Center for Future Children, a part of the Media Lab that concentrates on education for children in developing nations. The Okawa Center was established in 1998 with a $27 million donation from Isao Okawa, the late chairman of SEGA Enterprises and the software company CSK.
The Media Lab expansion building will occupy the corner of Ames and Amherst streets, which is about one block from bank of the Charles River. Since the building across the street from it is only a few stories tall, the upper floors of the new Media Lab building will offer a direct view of the river and the Boston skyline.
The Media Lab is only two blocks from a famous MIT landmark, the aesthetically controversial Stata Center for Computer, Information and Intelligence Sciences, which was designed by Frank O. Gehry.
Lab space is currently at a premium for MIT Media Lab professors and researchers, and the university has had to remove closets to make room for its growing research teams. The new building will include seven labs of about 5,000 to 8,000 square feet each.
Many of the labs in the new building will feature multilevel construction and combinations of walls and glass that will offer lots of visibility between groups. The aim of the design is to foster interdisciplinary inspiration. The idea was inspired by “the Cube” in the Weisner building, a popular multilevel glass (though windowless) space currently shared by and showcasing various Media Lab group projects, said Alexandra Kahn, a spokeswoman for MIT Media Lab.
“Don’t worry, though, these will have a lot of light,” said Kahn.
The labs will be staggered off a multilevel courtyard-like atrium spanning the third and fourth floors, as shown here.
The lower atrium, adjacent to exhibition spaces and closest to the street, will occupy the first four floors of the building and may be used for things like the testing of robots whose performance would be measured by their interaction with people entering the building. The second floor of the building will be used for offices.
Here is an outside view of both the lower and upper atrium, as envisioned by Maki.
The sixth floor of the expansion building will have a 100-seat theater, a dining room, 3,500 square feet of multipurpose space, a conference room with floor-to-ceiling glass and an outdoor terrace, and quite a nice view of the Charles River and the Boston skyline.
The MIT Media Lab expansion also includes event space, shown here, and catering facilities.
Not all the tech at MIT happens indoors. Called WhoWhatWhenAir, this tower, shown here in a photo taken in June, was the winner of an MIT competition to design a mini skyscraper. It can flex up to 8 feet in any direction through the use of “pneumatic actuators”–inflatable tubes designed to work like muscles. If translated into an actual skyscraper, the notion goes, the system could help the structure deal with destabilizing environmental forces such as wind; in this project, the goal was to make instability part of the fun. There’s even a plan to let the public interact with the tower by using bicycle pumps to trigger “unexpected motions.”rnrn
rnThe WhoWhatWhenAir team labored through the spring to turn their design into reality,