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Holl Presents Third New Dorm Design

By Kristen Landino

Progress towards the new Vassar Street dormitory, which is currently in the architectural design stage, is on schedule and the building is expected to be completed by Fall 2001, according to Founder’s Group member Joshua C. Randall ’01.

Design Specifications Modified

Architect Steven Holl presented his ideas to the group earlier in the year. However, the proposed design called for a section reaching a height of approximately 180 feet.

A structure this tall would require a special building permit from the city of Cambridge. In order to circumvent the additional funds and paperwork which would be necessary, the Founders decided to modify the design to meet the standard building height limits set by the city of Cambridge.

Presented to the Founder’s Group in early July, the new creation by Steven Holl, dubbed “the Sponge Design”, met with approval from the committee.

“We expect Holl to be back with the final design within the next few weeks,” said Randall.

The “Sponge Design”

The “Sponge Design” is named such because it includes a number of “void spaces” which are to be used as lounges. These spaces will extend through multiple floors, in some cases, serving to integrate the different levels of the dormitory.

The facade of the building will also reflect the “Sponge Design”, according to Randall. The roof will made up of various levels with roofdecks on the lower roof levels.

Walls in student rooms will be composed of a grid of nine small windows instead of the traditional two or three larger windows. It is hoped are that this design concept will give students a greater interaction with their surroundings.

Housemaster’s apartments in the new dormitory will also include a reception area large enough to hold all students in the dormitory. This added touch will encourage more student gatherings and facilitate stronger relations between students in the dorm.

Holl has designed an archway which runs through the center of the dormitory. Stairs will be located under this structure where students can gather and sit.

The Founder’s Group also plans to include a dining facility, after hours cafe, exercise room, and a theater space where lectures can be held and students can watch movies. The new dormitory will also have spaces for visiting scholars staying for a single semester or year.

Student rooms will be located along long curved hallways which open into student lounges. Two to three rooms will share small private bathrooms. The dormitory will be comprised of both single and double rooms.

Student integration techniques

“The Founder’s Group does not want the new dormitory to be strictly a freshman dorm. We hope to have it be a mix of all student classes, similar to other dorms on campus,” Randall said.

The new dormitory will be located along Vassar Street on the opposite side of Briggs Field, somewhat isolated from most of the dorms on campus. The Founder’s Group has addressed this issue and included several ideas to integrate the dormitory with the rest of the MIT community.

Plans are in the works to construct a walkway across Briggs Field to allow students housed in the new dorm freer access to campus. There are also plans to remake Vassar Street in order to give it a more residential feel and make it more visually appealing.

“We would like to use the property behind Vassar Street in the Cambridgeport neighborhood for new faculty housing,” Randall said.