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Massachusetts Institute of Technology


2009 Accreditation Report

Institutional Self-Study

8. Physical and Technological Resources

The MIT campus comprises a wide array of physical and technological resources that support the academic and research pursuits of students and faculty. Personnel charged with developing and managing these resources have in place a network of planning and operational protocols designed expressly to provide continuous feedback and interface between the teaching and research community and the administration. Through continuous feedback with student and faculty users, MIT is able to maintain and adapt the physical and technological resource base to support the internationally recognized teaching and research that occurs on campus.

The overall composition of the physical and technological resources on campus is driven in part by MIT's long-held practice of students and faculty shaping the teaching and research pursuits of the Institute. Because the needs of faculty and students are dynamic, the Institute seeks to develop physical and technology resources that offer flexibility to support the evolving needs of the MIT community.

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Since MIT's move from Boston's Back Bay across the Charles River Basin to Cambridge in 1916, its campus development has occurred in major cycles of building construction. Overall, these cycles of growth have supported the academic and student-life mission of the Institute by accommodating new scientific and technological developments and by supporting the residential life of a growing MIT community. Corresponding with significant capital campaigns, these periods of campus expansion have, on average, added about 1 million gross square feet (GSF) per decade.

The original campus buildings were designed by architect William Welles Bosworth and dedicated in 1916. Known as the Main Group, these buildings housed the Institute's science and engineering curriculum and were interconnected to encourage communication across the disciplines. In the 1940s and 1950s, MIT constructed a number of athletics and cultural buildings supportive of activities outside the classroom and critical to the modern architectural character of the Institute. The 1960s was a period of unprecedented campus growth The Institute added new buildings of all functional types—from laboratories to a student center to family housing—to accommodate expansion in all areas of research and to strengthen MIT's budding residential life.

The most recent capital program has resulted in an array of new and renovated facilities. Some support emerging areas of research; others create a more appealing living environment for students. Since 1999, MIT has constructed about 2 million GSF of new buildings, and renovated others. The Institute has added a natatorium and fitness center, new undergraduate and graduate residences that feature community spaces and other amenities, and major new academic facilities, including the recently completed Green Center for Physics, the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Complex, and the Stata Center.

The current development program continues MIT's balanced support of academic and student life. By 2010, the Institute will complete the construction of three new teaching and research facilities: the 217,000 GSF MIT Sloan School of Management complex; the 367,000 GSF Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research for the Schools of Science and Engineering; and the 163,000 GSF Media Lab extension for the School of Architecture and Planning. In addition, the Institute will complete significant renovations to existing buildings, make street and landscape improvements on campus, add more underground parking, and make utility upgrades to the Institute's central plant to support the new and renovated buildings. These facilities will provide space for the collaborative multidisciplinary research that is an MIT hallmark, and ultimately will provide new opportunities for teaching, learning, and community building at the Institute.

Today, MIT's Cambridge campus sits on 168 acres stretching over a mile along the Charles River. The Institute also has properties in Middleton (80 acres) and Tyngsboro (1,242 acres), MA, which house the Bates Linear Accelerator Center and the Haystack Observatory, respectively. In addition, MIT owns approximately 20 acres in Lexington, MA, adjacent to Hanscom Air Force Base; this is the site of Lincoln Laboratory, a federally funded research and development center focused on issues of national security.

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Planning for the development of the Institute's facilities is guided by the work of the Building Committee and the Committee for the Review of Space Planning. The Building Committee—chaired by the executive vice president and including the president, provost, chancellor, and other senior officers—is responsible for reviewing and approving capital projects over $5 million.

The Committee for the Review of Space Planning (CRSP), chaired by the associate provost, is the advisory body to the provost. CRSP makes decisions and recommendations related to space, planning, and capital projects under $5 million. The CRSP membership includes representatives from academic, research, and operations areas of the Institute. All requests for additional space and space changes are submitted to CRSP. On an annual basis, CRSP allocates approximately $20 million of the general Institute budget (GIB) to fund a variety of capital projects and studies related to space planning. CRSP funding is frequently supplemented by resources provided by the schools and departments or by the Capital Renewal Fund. During the past seven years, the total annual funding for CRSP-administered projects has ranged from $40 million to $50 million.

The Institute recently completed an in-depth, data-driven planning study known as Workstreams. The eight components of this interdisciplinary investigation documented current conditions and future needs in eight areas: program-driven projects; capital and capital renewal; facility space; energy efficiency; information technology; the Urban Ring (a regional transit proposal); transportation planning; and urban design and development of the Mass. Ave. corridor.

The Workstreams process resulted in a series of technical memoranda and preliminary recommendations. These recommendations, along with information from each of the schools and various departments on their respective long-term visions, have formed the foundation for Vision 2030—the Institute's effort to develop a framework to guide long-term capital-planning decisions.

The Department of Facilities includes teams of technical professionals charged with tasks ranging from long-range planning and design to maintenance, construction, and operation of the campus. The activities of these teams are coordinated by the director for campus planning, engineering, and construction and by the director of security, operations, and utilities, both of whom report directly to the executive vice president and treasurer. Because of the role the Department of Facilities plays in supporting teaching and research space on campus, there is continuous communication between department personnel, the associate provost for space planning, and a broad range of faculty, staff, and students. Through this communication, the department seeks to design and coordinate maintenance, construction, and repair activity that sustains the teaching and research demands of MIT.

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MIT is committed to excellence in environment, health, and safety stewardship on campus, in the larger MIT community, and globally. This long-held commitment is demonstrated through MIT's contributions to environment, health, and safety research and teaching, as well as through its institutional conduct (see the EHS policy document in the accreditation team room).

The Institute's Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) Office, and its EHS Management System (EHS-MS), were created to further MIT's commitment to protecting the environment, health, and safety of its employees, students, visitors, and surrounding community, while supporting the unique requirements of a research and academic center. The EHS-MS is a tool to help all MIT departments, laboratories, and centers manage five major responsibilities: organization; space registration and assessment; inspections; training; and accident and incident reporting and investigation.

EHS plays a key role in reviewing experiments that involve biological, chemical, and radiological agents. In this capacity, EHS evaluates hazards, assesses risk, and designs and implements controls to minimize risk to people and facilities.

In the last decade, EHS has been responsible for some major accomplishments:

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Prior to implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1992, MIT had initiated projects to improve the general accessibility of campus facilities, and it had met all code requirements for renovations and new construction. ADA provided the impetus for a major program to upgrade the existing campus with accommodations for persons with disabilities. In the 1990s, the Institute made improvements to walkways, entries, elevators, toilets, and other physical features, which opened access to all parts of the Institute and placed facilities and services within reasonable reach for all. Renovations also were made to heavily used buildings such as auditoriums, athletics and recreation areas, and other activity centers. Between 1993 and 2008, MIT undertook over $10 million of projects to improve accessibility on campus.

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As noted earlier in this chapter, MIT has built approximately 2 million GSF of new buildings since 1999. In addition, it has partially or fully renovated approximately 1.3 million GSF of space in 23 buildings, including 37 percent of the current classrooms, and it has constructed 818 underground parking spaces. Other highlights of MIT's construction program include:

The construction projects have contributed to meeting programmatic needs while adding to the Institute's architectural diversity. In the last decade, MIT has become a campus transformed.

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New construction

Academic and research

Included in the 463,300 GSF of the Stata Center are public space, laboratories, offices, and seven new teaching spaces ranging from 60-seat classrooms to an auditorium seating more than 300. The distinctive design of the Stata Center reflects the belief that researchers and students are highly creative and highly social thinkers whose research benefits from chance encounters and casual conversation across disciplines.

The Brain and Cognitive Sciences Complex is a 413,600 GSF laboratory and office building housing three organizations: the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory. The Brain and Cognitive Sciences Complex is the largest neuroscience center in the world, an interdisciplinary research and teaching facility that integrates these pioneering institutions devoted to uncovering the mysteries of the brain.

The Green Center for Physics included 49,000 GSF of new construction and 79,000 GSF of comprehensive renovation of adjacent existing buildings in the center of the MIT campus. This facility provides a home for the Department of Physics, additional space and entrances for the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and a new spectroscopy laboratory. The new space is designed to enhance interactions among faculty, students, and staff across these three groups.

Seven Cambridge Center (7CC) is a 231,028 GSF office and laboratory building housing the Broad Institute, a multi-disciplinary institute with a mission to propel progress in biomedicine through research aimed at the understanding and treating disease. Founded in 2004 as a collaboration between MIT, Harvard University, the Whitehead Institute, and the Harvard-affiliated hospitals, the Broad Institute is now a separate nonprofit research institute, tightly coupled to the MIT-Harvard biomedical community. MIT led the effort to locate the Broad at 7CC and managed the interior design and construction of the facility.

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Partly in response to the 1998 report from the Task Force on Student Life and Learning, MIT has been striving to create a stronger sense of campus community. One of the immediate goals for residence halls was to house all first-year undergraduates on campus. Those undergraduate housing needs have been addressed through two projects: Simmons Hall and Baker House. MIT completed Simmons Hall (350 beds) and the comprehensive renovation of Baker House (318 beds) in 2002.

MIT has also expanded residential opportunities for graduate students through three construction and renovation initiatives in the northwestern section of the campus. The three facilities—NW30, Sidney-Pacific, and New Ashdown House—together accommodate more than 1,000 additional students. The renovation of NW30, a former warehouse, into a 90,000 GSF (120-bed) residential complex for graduate students offers an attractive alternative to off-campus housing and provides housing for conference-goers during the summer months. Sidney-Pacific (750 beds) is designed to promote community, both inside and outside the building. New Ashdown House (550 beds) also gives residents a sense of community; the complex consists of connected buildings that are three to five stories tall, situated around two courtyards. In 2008–09, 37 percent of graduate students lived on campus.

Athletics and student life

Since opening in 2002, the 125,000 GSF Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center has had a major impact on campus life. The building ties together three preexisting athletics buildings and completes a quad centered on Kresge Auditorium. The Zesiger Center includes an Olympic-class 50-meter pool, an 11,000 GSF fitness center, a 5,000 GSF multipurpose court facility, and six squash courts.

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Landscape and infrastructure projects

The Vassar Street project is the complete renovation of a highly visible public corridor that runs for more than a mile though the MIT campus. Another streetscape project greatly enhanced the area between Massachusetts Avenue and Institute buildings by adding trees and other plantings, new sidewalks, and more bicycle parking. Other significant improvements include the creation of nine "pocket" parks and gardens around campus. At the conclusion of the current capital program MIT will have planted in excess of 500 new trees across the campus.

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MIT's renovation activities between 1999 and 2009 improved a broad swath of the campus. As noted earlier, roughly 1.3 million GSF were renovated during this period, including:

The renovations included significant work on core infrastructure systems in some of the original Main Group buildings. In addition to providing upgraded services for the areas affected, these major infrastructure-improvement projects enabled the Institute to assess design and construction issues in these nearly 100-year-old buildings, and to develop strategies and techniques for the next decade's renovation projects there.

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Construction projects scheduled for completion in 2010

In addition to the projects completed between 1999 and 2009, three projects are under way and due for completion by the end of 2010:

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Response to the economic downturn

In the area of facilities, MIT has taken two notable steps to reduce the fiscal pressure on Institute budgets. The first step was to implement $5 million reductions in the FY 2010 budgets for capital renewal and the Committee for the Review of Space Planning (for a $10 million total reduction). The second step was to assess cost-cutting options for the current program of capital projects. Because the Media Lab, MIT Sloan School, and Koch Institute projects were at advanced stages of construction, we concluded that suspending these projects or changing their scope would yield no savings. However, we determined that the planned $90 million renovation of Building W1 (a student residence) could be placed on hold, allowing MIT to redirect resources to other programs, including financial aid. Shortly after we decided to postpone the W1 project, an anonymous donor committed $20 million for renovation of the building's exterior. With the support of this gift, MIT will be able to minimize potential deterioration of the exterior envelope before additional funding is available to complete the interior renovations.

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Deferred maintenance needs come to light via several sources, including client requests to correct problems, operational experience, and a comprehensive facilities audit completed in 2007 by Vanderweil Facility Advisors.The Department of Facilities addresses deferred maintenance needs collaboratively, drawing on expertise from all functional areas within the department. Decision makers use an analytic deliberative process and follow criteria consistent with Institute goals.

The Department of Facilities has tackled many deferred maintenance projects since 1999. For example, it has:

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Developing and maintaining a sustainable campus requires attention to many systems and interdependence among them. The Institute is employing methods to address new construction, renovations, and energy-system upgrades to improve efficiency across campus.

In new construction projects, MIT is taking an integrated-design approach that uses the expertise of each team member (engineers, contractors, etc.) to create the best possible building for the site and the program. The integrated-design approach has been used for the Koch Institute, the new MIT Sloan School, and NW35 graduate dorm. This process has led to innovative application of systems such as heat-pipe exchangers, demand-based ventilation, day lighting and occupancy sensors, chilled beams and radiant panels, and reduced face velocity for fume hoods.

For renovations and system upgrades, MIT has developed a program of sustainability upgrades that include lighting upgrades, steam-trap replacements, and continuous commissioning of electrical and mechanical systems.

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Over the past five years, MIT has made significant investments in maintaining its IT infrastructure to provide the capabilities necessary for students and faculty to do the advanced research, teaching, and learning that are the hallmark of an MIT educational experience. IT is a dynamic field, and the IT infrastructure now includes wired and wireless high-speed networks, hundreds of servers with specialized software applications, and access to high-performance "supercomputers" in many academic departments.

As noted in Chapter 7, some IT services at MIT are provided by specialized IT groups in the MIT Libraries, the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education, OpenCourseWare, and several schools and academic departments. However, MIT's central IT department is Information Services and Technology (IS&T). IS&T has a wide range of responsibilities, from providing the campus network to ensuring critical day-to-day business operations to carrying out strategic planning for IT. Collaborative activities across the MIT community—such as committees and outreach programs—inform IS&T's efforts to meet the needs of all clients.

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Networks and connectivity

The original MIT campus network was developed in the late 1980s to support MIT's Project Athena. Over time, the network gradually expanded, and in the early 1990s it connected the student residences through the Resnet program, which is now a standard offering in all new construction at MIT.

The existing telephone closets and newly created TDCRs (telephony and data communication rooms) function as installation points for network and telephony equipment to serve MIT's wired, wireless, and telephony infrastructure and to support its broad range of converged Internet Protocol (IP) services, including MITvoip. As the technology and devices supporting the campus network developed and matured, they began to push the limits of the infrastructure and reveal the need for higher category cabling, larger TDCRs, and additional power and cooling.

At the turn of the century, MIT made a strong commitment and financial investment to upgrade MITnet with a focus on wireless technology and converged IP services. MIT went "unwired" in 2004–05 when Information Services and Technology installed over 3,000 wireless access points, making the MIT campus one of the largest geographic entities—about 11 million GSF—served by a single wireless network. MIT is currently upgrading the wireless network to the current generation (802.11n), which will provide network speeds of up to 150 megabytes per second. The Institute is targeting a two-thirds replacement, or 2,200 access points, by June 2009 and a full replacement by spring 2010.

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The new MIT Regional Optical Network

In March 2008, the Insitute launched the MIT Regional Optical Network, one of the world's largest institutional networks for research and collaboration. Through this all-optical, next-generation network, MIT provides connectivity to key Internet exchange points with speeds beyond 10 gigabytes per second, the equivalent of transmitting 10 full-length, high-definition movies in 30 seconds.

IS&T partnered with Nortel to create the MIT Regional Optical Network, acquiring already-laid fiber-optic lines ("dark fiber") from Level-3 Communications. The network is designed to accommodate faster technologies and upgrades as they become available. Initially, it is being deployed across the northeastern United States, connecting MIT's main campus to New York, Washington, DC, and Baltimore via 1,500 miles of fiber, with optical equipment at 17 locations across seven states. Plans include linking to LHCnet, the research network maintained by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN); the Energy Sciences Network (ESnet); and the National LambdaRail. All are composed of millions of network elements.

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Athena clusters

IS&T provides and manages 17 general-purpose rooms historically called "Athena clusters," consisting of over 400 UNIX workstations throughout campus. More than 20 additional Athena clusters with over 500 workstations are managed by MIT's academic departments, laboratories, and centers.

A faculty committee that reviewed the use of these rooms reported that use varies, depending on the time of year and location. There is a perception that students take advantage of Athena clusters primarily for printing and e-mail access. Better data are needed to confirm this and to determine whether the rooms are still necessary in an environment where students increasingly have their own personal computers. For the time being, while the Athena clusters remain in service, the faculty review committee recommended enhancing their printing capabilities with a focus on resource conservation and ease of use. The committee also recommended equipping these workspaces with additional technology to support more flexible and collaborative interactions and learning.

Portions of three Athena clusters were renovated in 2006 to give students the option of using their laptops instead of the desktop machines provided. These renovated workspaces have wireless access; large, wall-mounted LCD display monitors, whiteboard/projection systems with electronic capturing, and modular and soft furniture.

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Since the fall of 2007, the Institute has been engaged in an integrated campus-planning effort that will result in a comprehensive plan to optimize the Institute's land and building resources and provide a roadmap for decision making that balances programmatic initiatives with facility and open-space needs on campus. Progress on these fronts will lay the foundation for MIT's next capital development program.

The planning effort involves several steps: determining academic and student-life priorities; translating those priorities into proposals for renovation projects or potential new buildings; assessing MIT's building and land resources; and identifying infrastructure upgrades required to support campus development, such as upgrades to utilities, landscaping, parking, and information technology. The Institute aims to increase the value of its land and building resources by strategically locating programs in both new and existing buildings. In particular, MIT is creating opportunities for the potential match of Institute priorities within existing buildings, with a benefit of addressing the Institute's backlog of deferred-maintenance projects. These considerations about building renovation are being included in a larger strategic plan for capital investment in MIT's buildings, which aims to balance renovations with building renewal and ongoing operations.

The Green Center for Physics, designed with the goal of fostering new research collaborations, was the cornerstone of a major infrastructure renewal and modernization project that has reinvigorated one-quarter of the original Main Group buildings and added 50,000 GSF of new space. Because of this project's success, MIT plans to continue the renewal of its historic buildings through renovation. We are also evaluating the benefits of future infill construction and other strategies to add facilities that support MIT's cutting-edge research.

All of these campus-planning efforts are being closely coordinated with the work of the Institute-wide Planning Task Force (described in Chapter 2), which has been examining many issues related to MIT's physical space and information-technology resources. Task Force working groups, made up of students, faculty, and staff, are charged with finding ways to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and improve effectiveness throughout the Institute. The groups focusing on physical resources are seeking savings in construction, renovation, and operating costs, along with opportunities to optimize the use of space. On the IT side, subgroups have focused on three broad areas of use: administration, education, and research. In addition, a separate cross-cutting subgroup has focused on possible organizational changes in the use of IT. A series of preliminary recommendations was made this summer, and can be found in the preliminary report of the Task Force in Appendix 6.

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