In Association WithMaki and Associates, Tokyo, Japan
Built around a culture of cross-disciplinary research groups, MIT’s Media Lab has pioneered a dynamic research environment where academia and industry collaborate. Its new building is a workplace and a showplace for technological innovation, design, and the arts.
At the heart of the building, a multi-tiered central atrium surrounded by research labs and informal gathering spaces offers a high level of transparency and interconnection between spaces. Seven laboratory spaces are vertically staggered around the atrium such that the lower level of one research space is on the same level of the upper level of another. This arrangement results in unexpected and engaging diagonal views from one laboratory to another and through the building to its outer glass wall. The atrium cascades through all seven floors and serves as the primary vertical and horizontal circulation. It is the building’s active social node with public spaces for exhibitions, performances, and impromptu gatherings.
To provide a meeting place for the Media Lab’s many visitors, the new building is crowned with a conference center commanding a panoramic view of the Boston skyline across the Charles River. A large multi-purpose function room, an intimate presentation forum, and a flexible meeting and dining space surround the light-filled winter garden and terrace.
The six-story building sits comfortably in its setting surrounded by lower campus structures. Its envelope of glass, aluminum panels, and aluminum pipe screen and its shaped roof profile create a light and delicately scaled presence amid its solid masonry neighbors.