Page D1.1 . 20 November 2002                     
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    Housing by Holl

    by James McCown

    A new dormitory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology seems tailor-made for the school's super-geek culture. The building by Steven Holl has been compared variously to a giant Rubik's Cube and a 1950s computer punch card.

    Set on a long narrow site on the western edge of MIT's campus in Cambridge, Simmons Hall opened in August 2002 and houses some 350 MIT undergraduates. As Holl's first commission in greater Boston, it represents a return to architectural daring for a city that seems to have spent the last two decades in a red-brick, historicist stupor.

    And it's not the first time that MIT has been the locus of Boston's daring. The campus is home to iconic works by Eero Saarinen and boasts one of only two buildings in the United States by Alvar Aalto.

    MIT's Building Program

    The New York-based Holl recalls: "[MIT president] Chuck Vest told me, 'we want architecture again.' He referred to Saarinen's Kresge Hall and Aalto's Baker House as exemplary works. Chuck should be given credit. There are so few good architectural patrons out there."   >>>

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    Simmons Hall is a new dormitory at MIT by New York architect Steven Holl.
    Photo: James McCown

    ArchWeek Image

    Colors in the facade are keyed to structural stress levels.
    Photo: Andy Ryan

     

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