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Stata Budget Actually $283.5M, Not Globe’s $430M

By Beckett W. Sterner

NEWS EDITOR

Contrary to a report by the Boston Globe, the budget for the Stata Center project remains at $283.5 million, not $430 million.

In addition, MIT has a general policy of not paying for new furniture following renovation or construction, said Provost Robert A. Brown. Instead, most faculty moving into the Stata Center will be expected to transfer their existing furniture or pay for any new purchases out of discretionary funds.

He said that the total cost for the building has increased since its conception in 1998 because several large additions had been made, including a 700 car parking garage, a child care facility and new teaching facilities such as a second Technology Enabled Active Learning classroom.

Adding the garage extended the construction schedule by 12 to 14 months, he said, and while the opening date was set for this September, severe winter weather pushed construction back a of couple months, meaning faculty can not move in until the beginning of next term.

Quikrete estimate incorrect

The Quikrete concrete company issued a press release this past June that said, “Estimated at $430 million, the [Stata Center] was designed by world renowned architect Frank O. Gehry.”

Paul Ferraguto, New England construction projects manager for Quikrete, said that the numbers cited in the press release were based on data from the Stata Center Web site. When the similarity between the $430 million estimate and the building’s square footage of 430,000 was pointed out, he said the cost estimate was likely a mistake.

Ferraguto then said that he would contact the Globe and retract the number as incorrect.

In terms of the apparent increase in the building’s cost over the past five years, from $100 million to $283.5 million, MIT Senior Project Manager Nancy E. Joyce said that the $100 million was part of the “construction budget,” which “is what we pay to contractors.”

The larger number is the “project budget,” she said, which includes engineering, design and administration fees, as well as several additions including the new garage.

CSAIL offers to pay for furniture

Rodney A. Brooks, director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, said that CSAIL had “stepped up to the plate” and would help contribute to the cost of buying new furniture.

Brown said that CSAIL had decided it wanted to purchase some new furniture, but otherwise faculty only have to pay for any extra new furniture they want. Joyce said that approximately $2 to $3 million in furnishing costs lie outside the project budget and will be supplied by the new tenants.

She also said that MIT will purchase furniture for all student common areas, as well as for the Philosophy and Linguistics department, which had received a special promise from the Institute several years ago following their transfer into a much smaller space.

Brooks said that faculty are being encouraged not to purchase new furniture for their offices until after they have moved in. He said that experiences at other universities have indicated that the tendency was to buy too much and then not have enough room to fit everything.

Several faculty members said that new furniture was not a significant burden on their budgets, especially since computer science laboratories do not require elaborate equipment or set up.

Professor Peter Szolovits said that any cost from new furniture would come out of his group’s discretionary fund and would not affect funding for research.

“I don’t particularly care about the quality of furniture in my office,” said Professor Anant Agarwal. “I’m not worried,” he said, because “blackboards are cheap.”