The fully networked design studios at MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning offer a ground-breaking environment where students learn to work with cutting-edge technologies and researchers study the effect of these new technologies on the design process.
Located within MIT’s original campus, the main space – three corridors off a central rotunda – had been virtually abandoned and the facilities of the architecture department were scattered in twelve different buildings. The goal of the renovation project was to reunite the disciplines of design including faculty offices, studio and review spaces and to create a coherent identity for the School on three floors within this main group.
In order to unify the school in one location, a space still undersized for its full program, the design provides locations for reviews, exhibitions, and gatherings in former corridors and passages. The new plan creates an ambulatory around the dome, where exhibitions, a café, and design reviews enliven the space. By reconfiguring the space around the dome, the renovation unifies the critical mass of studio and review areas, creating a symbolic new “heart” for the school.
Transparency between studios and corridors was a goal to enable display of the studio process to the Institute at large. A system of steel-framed glass walls defines the studio walls and doors, creating an interior “urban façade” along the corridors. Between the perimeter gallery and studios, glazed roll-up doors offer flexibility for students to expand either the studio space or the corridor review space. New and reused skylights along the exterior wall provide an abundance of natural light to formerly interior spaces.