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Late Night at the Bio Building

By Simson L. Garfinkel

Although it is still under construction, I couldn't resist the urge to go late night hacking through the biology department's new home, Building 68.

I showed up late one night, camera in hand, looking for a way inside. Wouldn't you know it? The door to the new building was left unlocked, making for easy entry through the basement of Building 66 and the Institute's newest subterranean tunnel.

To keep the chances of discovery to a minimum, I eschewed the flash, using Kodak Tri-X film pushed to ASA 800 instead. At 3 a.m. on a Thursday night I wasn't really expecting much in the way of trouble -- or discovery, for that matter -- but I wore my most agile running sneakers just in case. You just never know when a person passing by will spy your silhouette through a well-lit window and make a "friendly" call to Campus Police.

Thankfully, the photo shoot was mostly uneventful, with the exception of a radio that some workman left blaring in a semi-finished, fifth-floor office. As with the basement, few of the inside doors were locked: Many of the doors didn't even have their locks installed.

I didn't find a single "Keep Out!" or "No Trespassing" sign until I found the stairway to the roof. By then, I had what I had come for: four rolls shot, wound, and back in my bag. Being a law-abiding hacker, I eschewed the pleasures of the roof, walked back down the unfinished south staircase, and headed home to my darkroom. The fog closed in as I left.

Elapsed time: 1 hour, 27 minutes.

Editor's note: Simson L. Garfinkel '87, a former contributing editor of The Tech, is a freelance writer living in Cambridge.

PHOTO: Exterior photograph of Building 68 under construction.

PHOTO: The building is in a strange state of incompletion. In some offices, there are final coats of paint and shelving. In other rooms, the concrete floors have yet to be poured.

PHOTO: Although the power has been turned on throughout most of Building 68, construction lamps still light most of the building's hallways, casting interesting patterns on the floors.

PHOTO: This is not your typical stairway to heaven: One wrong turn on this unfinished structure and you'll find yourself plunging five stories back to earth.

PHOTO: Hacking isn't without it's dangers.

PHOTO: When we came across high voltage, we stayed clear.

PHOTO: One of Building 68's most distinctive features are two atriums, each five stories tall, which should afford spectacular views between floors. Let's hope that the final railings are more stable than these two-by-fours.

PHOTO: Generations of Biology students will find themselves working at these rows upon rows of laboratory benches in the windowless subbasement of Building 68. At least they won't have the sunlight coming in and ruining their experiments.

PHOTO: The basement of Building 68 has a massive dual intake ventillation system, redundent pipes, electrical systems, and water lines. The upstairs laboratories are already well apportioned with cold rooms and autoclaves. This place is a biologist's dream come true.

PHOTO: Most of the basement was a utilitarian mix of ventilation equipment, electrical service boxes, and trash left from construction...except for this piece of artwork I discovered.

PHOTO: Up a stairway from the basement, behind a locked door, in a hidden chamber, the hackers have already started to sign in.