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Athletic Plans Poorly Devised

Allow me to be one of the first to object to the proposed central athletics complex as illustrated in The Tech ["Plans Progress for New Athletic Facility," Sept. 15]. The idea to squash a $40 million complex between the Student Center and the Johnson Athletic Center might sound fine until one looks at the study's model, which is an absolute insult to the site and a blatant offense to the central campus.

A new athletics complex, with the kinds of facilities discussed in Tuesday's article, is a great idea. Locating the complex on central campus, near the existing DuPont and Johnson facilities, is logical. But the building depicted in the study's model is a terrible use of the tiny square between Johnson and Stratton. In addition to being far too heavily massed for the site, the addition of such a facility would turn MIT's physical center into nothing more than yet another huge concrete blot upon campus. Furthermore, it would remove an aesthetically vital patch of greenery, the area now occupied by the barbecue pits, and enjoyed, at the least, twice yearly by freshmen on their way to finals in Johnson. The Planning Office seems to have decided that Kresge Oval satisfies central campus's need for open green space, and that the surrounding area might just as well be completely built up.

MIT's often-poor planning is nicely demonstrated by the proposed athletics complex, primarily by its location, but also by the idea that Rockwell Cage must be demolished, and its volleyball, badminton, racquetball and basketball courts replaced with new ones. Surely, if an expansion of capacity is desired, the solution is to both retain and improve the existing facilities and build new ones. The Planning Office should realize it is new construction, not replacement, that increases capacity.

My recommendation to the administration is to reconsider. Of course, the current administration is the same one putting forth spurious plans for new housing on west campus, the same one that bungled undergraduate housing this year by evicting graduate students from Tang, and the same one that, I am told, has failed to reach graduate student housing targets for the past quarter-century. (I will spare the topic of Building 20.) If the proposed athletics complex design is any indicator of the Planning Office's current mindset, it is imperative that the MIT community listen vigilantly for any and all plans the administration announcements, and necessary that we respond with reasoned disapproval whenever new designs would further transform our campus into a concrete wasteland.

Eric J. Plosky '99