Art & Media meet at buildingBy Thomas T. Huang
The white-tiled Jerome and Laya Wiesner Building will provide a "birthing ground" for academic achievement at the crossroads of arts and media technology, President Paul E. Gray '54 announced during the building's formal dedication Wednesday.
The building is named in honor of the former MIT president and his wife "in recognition of their dedication to the Institute and their sustained advocacy of the arts and communications technologies," according to David S. Saxon '41, chairman of the MIT Corporation.
The Wiesner Building, built as a cooperative venture between architects and artists, will in turn house a collaboration of researchers in diverse fields of arts and media. Gray predicted this collaboration will "push back the frontiers where art and technology coincide."
"The architects and artists were asked to design an environment which at once created a connecting entrance to the east campus and furnished specialized, newly communal housing for MIT's Council For the Arts, the Media Laboratory, and the List Visual Arts Center," said Kathy Halbreich, director of exhibitions, in Artists and Architects Collaborate: Designing the Wiesner Building.
"The Wiesners have been intimately involved with developing and strengthening each of these three programs; without them neither this facility nor the powerful body of ideals animating it could have taken form," she added.
The Media Laboratory, a new interdisciplinary center, will conduct research in intelligent telephones, personalized newspapers, advanced television, synthetic holography, computer animation and sensory-rich human-computer interfaces.
The List Visual Arts Center, administered by the Committee on the Visual Arts, provides space for art exhibitions. The MIT Council for the Arts and the Educational Video Resources Office will also be located in the building.
"Ideas crowd this building," said John de Monchaux, dean of the school of architecture and planning. "The building is a host to ideas as well as people," and future work will determine "the ways we experience the world, and how we pass these ideas to others."
"The artists' work [on the Wiesner Building] will not be individual works of art standing in space or hung on a wall ... [but] part of the building, a permanent part of the environment," said architect I. M. Pei '40 in a March 1983 interview with The New Yorker. I. M. Pei and Partners designed the $29 million building, whose construction started in 1982.
Kenneth Noland designed the horizontal and vertical color bars and square panels which animate the white metal exterrior and interior atrium walls. Scott Burton designed the curve of the atrium's stairwell, which is echoed in the balconies as well as in the metal balustrade. He also was responsible for providing the public seating on the lower and ground levels.
Richard Fleischner designed the space between the Wiesner Building, the MIT Medical Services Building and the Whitaker College of Health Sciences, Technology, and Management. He devised connecting, paved pathways, whose different patterns and colors interweave all the competing geometries of the surrounding buildings.
these different fields will be "neighbors for the first time," said de Monchaux. Understand seeing, hearing and learning.
"The spaces we share ... are setting for meetings among ," de Monchaux.
Building surrounds a space, where people can interact. "A campus is not unlike a town or a city ... where you find excitement in the streets and squares." People often find it easier to interact outside of their offices, in the corridors, by chance meetings.
Pei said the building is "so small, can it make a difference?
Came amid symposia which addressed the use of computers in living, learning and working