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Drop Posters May Be Replaced

High-Tech Alternative Sought for Lobby 7 Information Display

By Christine Fry


As much as the reopened skylight and newly-shined floors have changed the look of Lobby 7, the possible absence of drop posters might be the biggest change of all for MIT students.

The Lobby 7 project group held a forum last Thursday to discuss new ways of presenting information without the use of traditional drop posters. Members of the restoration group are concerned about the presentation of information because much of MIT’s community and visitors pass through Lobby 7 on a regular basis.

“[Lobby 7 is] the front door of MIT,” said Wellington “Duke” Reiter, professor of the practice of architecture and adviser to the project group. “I think everything we put in Lobby 7 should be very streamlined and contemporary.”

Reiter said he would like to find a high-tech replacement for drop posters. The project group emphasized the inappropriate nature of drop posters in such a historical space. “They’re not respectful of the space, quite frankly,” said project group member Gayle M. Gallagher.

“The railings are meant to be transparent. It’s as if you put a brick wall there. You can’t see out of [drop posters],” Reiter said.

However, Reiter said he would like the new technology to still allow students to display information creatively. “What I like about drop posters is people made them,” Reiter said.

Audience members oppose plan

One possible way to replace drop posters is to project information on the walls of the lobby. Some of the audience members voiced concerns about eliminating drop posters entirely.

“Most people are walking through very quickly. Drop posters are particularly effective because you can see them all the way across [the lobby],” said Lecture Series Committee (LSC) member P. Alex Rolfe G.

“There’s something nice about the static nature that you can stop and look at when it catches your eye,” said Emmi L. Snyder, administrative assistant for the Graduate Student Council.

Reiter said he would also like to find a better way to organize the paper posters in Lobby 7.

“It’s amazing, the tyranny of 8.5 by 11 pieces of paper on this campus,” Reiter said. He added that he is confident that a solution will be found. “There must be an MIT answer to this,” he said.

Displaying the passage of time

The project group presented a computer-designed model that displayed one possible way to inform the public of current events at MIT as well as commemorate monumental discoveries and events that have occurred at MIT. In the model, each pedestal in the four corners of the lobby represented a different aspect of time. The two pedestals on the infinite corridor side of the lobby would display the current time and date and events occurring that day. The two pedestals on the Massachusetts Avenue side of the lobby would display coming events and perhaps special achievements at MIT.

The logic behind this arrangement is that students rushing through in the morning on the way to class could check the time and what they can do after class. In the evening, when people are returning to West Campus dormitories or home, they could find out about events within the next few days and even some history about the school.

Reiter is not certain how these aspects of time are to be manifested. However, he stressed that the group wants to use technology developed at MIT to display the time and information, “somehow mixing 20th and 21st century technology.”

“There are ways of displaying information in [Lobby 7] that I think are in harmony with MIT’s goals,” said David Fixler, the lead restoration architect from the Einhorn Yaffee Prescott firm.

Timeline, budget indefinite

Because a definite plan for the furnishing of Lobby 7 has not yet been made, Gallagher said she is reluctant to set a deadline for the new technology to be in place.

“We’re not talking timelines. We want to do it right,” Gallagher said.

The source of funding will also remain indefinite until a finalized plan for Lobby 7 is established. Gallagher said that the funding will most likely come from donors, with the Institute providing the remainder.

“There’s a commitment to do it,” Gallagher said.

The next Lobby 7 forum will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 23 at noon in La Sala de Puerto Rico.