Re-Engineered for Real
Afternoon Tours Showcase Real Estate Re-Engineering in Action
By Jim H. Smith
Posted October 26, 2010
"MIT continues its objective of providing state-of-the-art amenities for its faculty, staff and students," declares an article about physical plant expansions on the MIT Department of Facilities website. "The Department of Facilities is a leader in fulfilling that objective by providing the development and construction for sustainable buildings."
Three MIT buildings that exemplify the essence of that re-engineering objective are the Koch (Cancer) Institute, the Media Lab Extension, and the expansion of the Sloan School. On Friday, October 1, guests at MIT/CRE's 25th Anniversary conference – entitled Real Estate Re-Engineered – had the opportunity to tour these models of re-engineering in action.
The Koch Institute
Positioned physically and intellectually near the Whitehead Institute, the Broad Institute, and other MIT biomedical research facilities, the Koch Institute will serve as the centerpiece of cancer research at MIT. "Development of the Koch Institute has created an opportunity to add a cadre of superb engineers to the cancer biologists at MIT," notes the Department of Facilities website.
"The life scientists can define the problems that need to be solved and tell how, in biological terms, to approach solutions. The engineers can put their analytical and problem-solving skills to work while relying on their colleagues' knowledge of cancer biology." Indeed, collaborations between the life scientists and engineers are already longstanding, and they will be further enhanced by The Koch Institute, which was designed and built with adaptable laboratory space pointedly designed for each team.
The new building also incorporates a host of sustainable design elements, including heat recovery incorporated into the HVAC systems; low flow laboratory fume hoods to reduce ventilation requirements; and low velocity duct work that reduces fan energy.
The Media Lab Extension
Pritzker Prize-winning architect Fumihiko Maki and architects Leers Weinzapfel Associates were the team behind the development of MIT's new Media Lab building, home to the Office of the Arts, the Council for the Arts, the List Visual Arts Center, the SA+P's Design Lab and Center for Advanced Visual Studies, the Department of Architecture's Visual Arts Program, and MIT's Program in Comparative Media Studies. The original Medial Lab was designed by I. M. Pei and Partners 25 years ago.
The challenge of the new project was to expand the building without altering its dynamics. The design team solved the problem with what has been described as "a delicate floating structure of glass and metal rods." The new building functions as a sequence of interlocking double-height spaces – nine flexible laboratories that flank the atrium. Rows of offices, clustered around the labs, encourage creative interaction.
The Sloan Expansion
The Sloan School expansion, designed by Moore Ruble Yudell Architects and Planners, with Bruner/Cott Architects, is a showcase for sustainability, beginning with recapture of a brownfield. It incorporates light pollution reduction; operable windows providing natural ventilation and individual control; sunshades and screens on the building's southern facade, improving daylighting while reducing solar heat gain; controls on lighting and window shades to reduce the building's energy use; an irrigation system connected to a central weather station to minimize watering; low flow bathroom facilities that substantially reduce the building's water use; storm water filtration that improves the quality of runoff into the Charles River; and low-emitting materials, including adhesives, sealants, paints and carpets, improving overall environmental quality.
Additionally the building features a partially green roof; low-wattage lighting; occupancy sensor controls; easy access to useable outdoor spaces; and many other advanced sustainability features.