MIT’s newest building, a luminous laboratory made of glass and steel, will finally open its doors to occupants on November 30.
Building E14, the extension to the Media Lab building, has been in planning for over a decade. First, construction was delayed for five years after a major donor backed out. Then, it was supposed to be finished over the summer, but construction overruns have delayed the opening until now.
Many of the Media Lab’s current occupants will move to E14 in the coming month, and the conjoined buildings are together expected to Comparative Media Studies program, labs from the School of Architecture and Planning, and the Council and Office of the Arts in addition to the Media Lab and List Visual Arts Center.
The building was designed by highly-acclaimed Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki, who won the 1993 Pritzker Architecture Prize and has designed actively since 1956. He has completed only a handful of buildings in the United States.
“Transparency and interaction” are the two guiding principles of the building’s design, according to Arne Abramson, the manager of the project. E14 will house nine laboratories, each partitioned with glass. Each lab is two stories high and sits offset by one floor to its neighbor, so one can see clearly into adjacent labs through the glass dividing walls. Inter-laboratory movement is just as convenient, with numerous single-story spiral staircases linking floors.
At night, bystanders can see through the entire building.
The main elevators are also made of glass. They streak upwards through the central atrium, interrupting the expanse of open air, glass, and white surfaces. Their inner workings are naked for people to see. The elevators provide access to the upper floors, housing multi-purpose conference presentation rooms, room for several cafes, a roof deck with a magnificent view of the Charles River and the academic campus, and a small auditorium, which follows the curvature of the building’s southwest corner — the only curve in the stark metal and glass exterior.
Along with the new Sloan School of Management and Koch Center for Cancer Research, E14 is part of a $750 million dollar campus development initiative seeking to strengthen research and innovation at the Institute.