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Center Breaks Ground

By Katie Jeffreys

Officials from MIT and Cambridge joined hands and shared shovels at a groundbreaking ceremony Friday that marked the beginning of the construction phase of the Ray and Maria Stata Center.

The ceremony began with brief speeches by President Charles M. Vest, Provost Robert A. Brown, and Cambridge Mayor Anthony D. Galluccio. The speakers, along with donors, Chairman of the Corporation Alexander V. d’Arbeloff ’49, and the client and project team then performed the shoveling duties at the site where Building 20 used to stand.

MIT-Cambridge form new bond

Vest cited the ceremony as being a symbolic moment in creating “the next magic incubator.” Building 20 was termed “the magic incubator” because of the technological contributions the workers there brought to the world.

“We look forward to all the scientific innovations we know will take place here,” said Beth Rubenstein, assistant city manager for community development and a speaker at the ceremony.

Rubenstein cited the Stata Center as an example of civic cooperation. The plans of the buildings took into consideration pedestrian needs and include a plaza available to the greater Cambridge community.

In addition, Rubenstein said that “the city was very gratified that MIT decided to locate the parking underground.”

Galluccio echoed this support of MIT-Cambridge relations. He sees the Center as a first step in a series of joint projects. Galluccio has called for MIT to become involved in the Cambridge Public Schools’ technology programs and help alleviate the Cambridge housing crunch by building more Institute housing.

He also joked that he was pleased that the Stata Center is a building whose name ends in a vowel.

Speakers praise center design

The actual structure of the building received accolades as well. The unique architecture of the building, consisting of non-perpendicular lines, varying materials, and bright colors will be a notable change to the landscape of the northeast corner of campus.

“It will have an impact on everyone who drives by it, everyone who goes in it, and everyone who has the privilege of working in it,” Brown said.

In addition to the three stories of underground parking, which will replace the East Garage, Brown pointed out the athletics and day care facilities, classrooms, and common space as important features of the building.

Big donors back center

Though the groundbreaking ceremony took place last Friday, construction of the Stata Center is set to begin later this spring. Designed by renowned architect Frank O. Gehry, the center will house primarily faculty in computer science, electrical engineering, artificial intelligence, and brain and cognitive sciences.

The Stata Center has received considerable financial support from donors such as William H. Gates III ($20 million), Alexander W. Dreyfoos Jr. ’54 ($15 million), and Ray and Maria Stata ($25 million). Many of the donors to the center were present at the groundbreaking ceremony: turnout to the event was so high that roughly twice as many people attended as there were seats available.

After the ceremony a reception was held, and photos and a video about the center were shown, along with a time capsule of Building 20.