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Lack of Funds Slows Construction

By Kathy Dobson


Several construction projects on and around the MIT campus have been slowed down or put on hold because of budget cuts and difficulties in raising funds.

Among these projects are a new arts building, an east campus project, a new physics building, and an extension to the Media Lab.

Arts Center in design

A Music and Theater Arts Teaching Laboratory is in the initial stages of design and will be “considered for further design work pending progress on fundraising,” according to the most recent Town Gown Report presented to the Cambridge Planning Board by MIT.

The Teaching Laboratory is expected to be approximately 36,000 square feet and to be located at the corner of Albany Street and Massachusetts Avenue in front of the MIT nuclear reactor, where a parking lot is currently located. The location will serve as a “window for the city into art at MIT,” said John R. Curry, executive vice president of the Institute.

The purpose of the new facility is to provide classroom, studio and rehearsal space to the growing performing arts activities around MIT, said Alan Brody, associate provost for the arts. The construction of space solely dedicated to performing arts follows an MIT trend to form a “new kind of concept of what undergraduate education is,” by incorporating humanities, arts, and social sciences into a traditionally technical education, Brody said.

EC Project on hold

The initial phase of the East Campus Project, which will include the demolition and erection of several buildings, may be delayed until the fall of 2006 or further, depending on fundraising, said Richard Schmalensee ’65, Dean of the Sloan School of Management.

The project will stay at its current stage until MIT receives “at least one more major gift,” Curry said.

The East Campus Project will undergo several stages. The first stage, which is halfway through the design phase, will include tearing down Dewey Library and putting up a new 200,000 square foot complex with a library, classrooms, group study rooms, dining facilities, public and student space, and housing offices, said Lucinda M. Hill, director of Sloan Capital Projects.

The new complex will also include underground parking for more than 300 parking spaces, according to the Town Gown Report.

Several other buildings will also be replaced.Buildings E32, E33, and E34 will undergo demolition.

The Hayward Garage, with 141 parking spaces, is scheduled to be demolished next year and will temporarily be replaced by surface parking, according to the Town Gown Report. E56 will also be torn down and replaced by an open public space, said Hill.

Green Center will be renovated

The Green Center for Physics will undergo major renovations beginning in a couples of years, Curry said.

The project is still in the final planning stages, and construction will not begin until all of the funds are available, said Claude R. Canizares, associate provost.

The renovation includes the demolition of building 6A, located in the “Atomic Courtyard,” which is framed by buildings 2,4,6 and 8, and the erection of a new building in its place. The new building will use the same foundation as building 6A and will have walkways to buildings 4, 6, and 8, said Canizares.

The purpose of the renovations is to allow the physics department to “consolidate its space, now spread throughout thirteen buildings on campus” and to improve existing facilities, according to the Town Gown Report.

In addition, buildings 4, 6, and 8 will have other renovations, including a wrap-around walkway connecting the buildings on the third floor.

Media Lab delayed

Building E14, an extension to the Wiesner Building, which houses the MIT Media Lab and the List Visual Arts Center, is being actively redesigned and will be put on hold until all the funds are raised for its construction.MIT has raised a little over $72 million of the $92 million needed for the project, said William J. Mitchell, academic head of the Department of Media Arts and Sciences.

The extension should take about two years to complete once materials are ordered, Curry said. The building site has been cleared, but construction of a foundation has not yet begun.

The new facility is expected to include “computer labs, student and faculty offices, meeting space and exhibition spaces,” according to the Town Gown Report.

Mitchell said that the extension will provide “desperately needed space” and that the students and faculty currently working in the Media Lab are “jammed in really tightly.”

However, the Ray and Maria Stata Center for Computer, Information, and Intelligence Science, to be dedicated in May 2004, and the Picower Center for Learning and Memory, to be completed in September 2005, will continue construction to completion.