Handing in math problem sets may now require more exercise. In late June or early July, the entire Department of Mathematics will be moving to E17 and E18 as their current space in Building 2 undergoes a significant renovation. Undergraduate math majors have already experienced the effects of the construction, with their undergraduate lounge moved to the Compton Room, opposite 26-100, this past January. For the duration of the construction, the lounge will remain in the Compton Room. As for the rest of the department, all faculty, staff, and graduate student offices will be moved to the new “swing space” in E17 and E18, which will be shared with the Department of Economics, whose space in E52 is also being renovated.
Consequently, some recitations and professor office hours will be farther away from main campus. “I guess [the move] is inevitable. I guess I can just take the Tech Shuttle to Ames Street and walk there now. Being able to stop for food truck food is a plus” said Jennifer J. Wu ’16, an undergraduate mathematics student.
One benefit of the new location is the close proximity to restaurants in Kendall Square, where students may choose to congregate instead. “There might be a cultural shift in the department for the next couple years,” said Department Head Michael Sisper. Graduate students will experience the greatest improvement in office space after the renovation, temporarily trading tight office spaces for cubicles.
The 10 classrooms currently used for recitations on the first floor of Building 2 will be replaced by six similarly-sized classrooms in E17. In addition, there will be a space specifically dedicated to handling problem set submissions, replacing the usual pset boxes.
Since being built in 1916, Building 2 has yet to see a significant overhaul. The Department of Mathematics has been actively including everyone affected in renovation decisions. According to Barbara Peskin, Course 18 academic administrator, “we’re trying to gather input from all of those who are affected: undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and staff. We want to do this right.”
According to MIT Capital Projects, the main themes of the renovation will be “renovation and renewal” and “enhancement of life and learning,” with sustainability playing a central role. Once the Building 2 project is finished, “From the (math) graduate student’s perspective, [the renovation] will be quite stunning,” described Sipser. Currently, the graduate student offices are dispersed throughout Building 2 with some offices in the basement. According to the MIT School of Science, the renovation will ensure that there will be more collaborative spaces with graduate student and faculty offices opening out to meeting areas after the renovation.
In the new building, use of space will be more efficient. With the digitalization of journals and books, less space is needed for offices. “The target faculty office size will around 240 square feet. Some of our faculty have spaces over 300 square feet right now.” Undergraduates can expect to return to an updated lounge area.
Vital to the interior space is bringing the building up to modern standards. There will be a new elevator as well as wider staircase to replace the steep and narrow stairs by 2-190. Regardless of the eventual interior design, half of the renovation budget will dedicated to the exterior, according to Peskin. The century old building will receive new windows, masonry, and be significantly restored. Final designs were scheduled to be set last summer. However, it is now expected that the design plans will be finalized later this summer.
The renovation of the Department of Mathematics may become a pilot project for the renovation approach to all the main group buildings, which are approaching their hundred year anniversary in 2016, according to MIT Capital Projects. As the Main group is renovated over the coming years, the swing space will serve as temporary office and classroom space for displaced departments like Mathematics and Economics as their space is updated.