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EECS Building Could Replace Bldg. 20

By Christopher L. Falling
Staff Reporter

First in a two-part series about planning projects involving academic, residential, and support buildings.

The completion of the new biology building has set the stage for the next phase of campus development of the main academic buildings, according to O. Robert Simha MCP '57, director of planning.

"MIT buildings are constantly being recycled to keep up with current research and academic needs," Simha said. This recycling includes both new building projects and renovations of the exterior and interior of older buildings, he said.

The MIT educational philosophy that encourages communication between disciplines is mirrored in the overall campus plan, Simha said. "The MIT campus is designed to encourage communication between people from all parts of the academic community in order to stimulate the exchange of ideas," he said.

AI lab, LCS to have new site

The old biology buildings from the 1950s (Buildings 16 and 56) will be renovated beginning in 1995 in order to accommodate disciplines and services currently housed in Building 20, or what Simha called "outdated World War II era temporary buildings."

The Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and the Laboratory for Computer Science will likely relocate from Technology Square to a new building built on the current site of Building 20, Simha said.

Even though Building 20 has historical significance for the allied war effort and the development of radar technology, it is not a historical landmark and is scheduled for demolition in 1997, Simha said.

The move of the AI lab and LCS to the Building 20 site is contingent upon the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science raising the necessary funding for the new building, Simha said. The proposed new building will also house the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems, he said.

The new building would be joined to the main complex of buildings "to bring the computer science faculty closer to their colleagues in accordance with MIT's philosophy," Simha said.

By the turn of the century, MIT plans to recycle parts of Buildings 12 and 24 for a physics building renovation that would consolidate the physics department in one area, Simha said. This renovation is also contingent on funding, he said.

The Jack C. Tang Center for Management Education, a major construction project in front of Building E53 that is nearing completion, is expected to be open for classes by the fall of next year, Simha said.

Funding for all building projects generally comes from a combination of sources including profits from research, gifts from alumni and corporations, and bank loans, Simha said.

Because the Institute makes about a 30-year commitment to a newly tenured member of the faculty, it is logical to have a plan "that reflects this commitment to housing the labs and offices of these faculty members," Simha said.

The average time for a building project to go from idea to completion is about 10 to 15 years, Simha said. However, some projects take much longer to initiate, such as the demolition of Building 20, he said.