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West Campus Dormitories

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Memorial Dr.

Beginning in the 1960s, the construction of dormitories changed the nature of MIT from a commuter institution to one with a residential student body. In a prime location facing Kresge Auditorium (MT15), McCormick Hall (1963, Building W4, Anderson and Beckwith, 320 Memorial Drive) projects a low-rise entrance leading to two seven-story towers. The framed concrete creating variety in the articulation of projecting piers and arched windows seems too ornate, but the whole is redeemed in some measure by the tree-filled forecourt. This site was originally marked for Kresge Auditorium but Eero Saarinen chose not to violate the brick-lined fabric of Memorial Drive, where the dormitories are interspersed with fraternity houses built in brick and limestone with imposing columnar porticoes and balustraded roofs.

Farther west, past Baker House (MT17) and Burton-Conner House (Building W51, 410 Memorial Drive), the large brick and concrete building is MacGregor House (1971, Building W61, Pietro Belluschi and The Architects Collaborative, 450 Memorial Drive) for undergraduates. Lower stories on Memorial Drive front the sixteen-story high rise with a split tower. A low garden court on the campus side serves as the main entrance.

Proceeding westward, the six linked lowrise brick houses (1975, Building W70, Sert, Jackson and Associates, 500 Memorial Drive) are organized on a more humane scale than the high-rise dorms. However, their walled-off aspect contributes little to the streetscape, although we may glimpse grassy quads and glass-enclosed corridors at ground level through iron gates. Privacy for inhabitants coexists with provisions for views, accessible from the stepped roof decks, while the main entrances are on the campus side. The buildings contain a graphic arts collection, made possible by the percentage-for-art program established by the institute in 1968.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Keith N. Morgan
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Citation

Keith N. Morgan, "West Campus Dormitories", [Cambridge, Massachusetts], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/MA-01-MT18.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Massachusetts

Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, Keith N. Morgan, with Richard M. Candee, Naomi Miller, Roger G. Reed, and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009, 309-309.

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