No. 477 . 02 June 2010 
ArchitectureWeek
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Maki's MIT Media Lab

by James McCown

For an academic unit that produces such forward-thinking projects as electronic ink, humanoid robots, and a digital opera, one might expect an edgy, geometrically wild building by Zaha Hadid or Coop Himmelb(l)au. But for the new building for the MIT Media Lab, Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki designed a serene example of classic modernism — a glass-and-steel form wrapped in an elegant aluminum screen.

This structure, Building E14, stands at the heart of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, linked to the adjacent Wiesner Building (1984) by I.M. Pei. The two buildings form an integrated home for the Media Lab and other programs in the School of Architecture + Planning.

Cubes with a View

Maki designed the new building, in association with Leers Weinzapfel Associates of Boston, to foster the Media Lab's hallmark cross-disciplinary research.

A large room in Wiesner known informally as "The Cube" became the spatial prototype for the new six-story, 163,000-square-foot (15,100-square-meter) structure.

Maki arrayed seven double-height research "cubes" around a central atrium. Home to research groups such as Tangible Media and Lifelong Kindergarten, these lab spaces are vertically staggered such that no two labs share a continuous floor plate, creating a complex section.   >>>

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