Open House

Architecture, Planning, and Design

MIT's School of Architecture and Planning opened the doors of its world-renowned Media Lab—where “the future is lived, not imagined”—and welcomed visitors to learn about the future of urban planning. Visitors attended project demonstrations and participated in interactive sessions where they helped build urban models and create digital maps.

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Scheduled Activities

The list below includes descriptions of events that open-house visitors were invited to attend.

The future of humanities education

Researchers from MIT's Comparative Media Studies' "HyperStudio" group will demonstrate its amazing projects around the future of humanities education. Perfect for kids looking for how to combine a love of gadgets and technology with a love of history and books.

Sponsor: Comparative Media Studies

BLOSSOMS: Building science, technology, engineering, and math STEM education worldwide

Watch BLOSSOMS (Blended Learning Open Source Science or Math Studies) videos and learning modules and talk to students and staff about this large, free repository of video modules for high school math and science classes.

Sponsor: Comparative Media Studies

Change the world through media

Researchers from MIT's Comparative Media Studies program will chat with families and visitors about what it's like to change the world through media.

Scot Osterweil will be on hand to demonstrate "Vanished," a Smithsonian-sponsored video game where students work together to solve a climate mystery.

Sponsor: Comparative Media Studies

Celebrating MIT's public art collection

The MIT List Visual Arts Center is pleased to present an afternoon of hands on art-making activities, refreshments, and tours of MIT's campus public art collection.

This family oriented event features a number of art-making activities inspired by public sculpture on MIT's campus!

Sponsor: List Visual Arts Center

MIT Museum inside out

Free admission all day at the MIT Museum, as it turns itself inside out for the Institute's Under the Dome: Come Explore MIT! (and the first day of the Cambridge Science Festival). Go behind the scenes of the museum and explore unique artifacts from MIT's history, as well as innovations in art, science and technology in Cambridge and beyond.

The day's programs will feature tours, hands-on activities, and a chance for visitors of all ages to see and chat with the people behind the Museum's MIT150 exhibition.

Sponsor: MIT Museum

MIT Museum inside out

The Wiesner Student Art Gallery is an exhibition space for currently enrolled MIT students and groups.

Featured exhibit: Iran: the unguarded moments. In contrast with many recent exhibitions on Iran, which tend to attract attention by focusing on the political tensions of present day, this exhibit focuses on the daily implications of cultural and habitual behaviors.

Throughout this exhibition the viewer is confronted by colorful and harmonious images displaying the unguarded moment, the essential sense of being, and the experience of contentment.

Sponsor: Office of the Arts

Festival of Art + Science + Technology Installations (FAST): voltaDom

A vaulted passageway as you've never seen it! voltaDom utilizes an innovative fabrication technique that creates complex double curved vaults through the simple rolling of a sheet of material.

Location: 56-66 Connector. By Skylar Tibbits, Lecturer, Department of Architecture

Sponsor: Office of the Arts

MIT Residential Life walking tours

Stop by the Residential Life Booth at the Student Center to pick up your walking tour brochure. Start at any hall, and learn about its s history, traditions, architecture and culture- past and present.

This self-guided tour gives you the flexibility to see some or all of MIT' s vast residential system, including undergraduate and graduate residence halls, and Fraternities, Sororities and Independent Living Group (FSILGs). Brochures will include a map of our housing facilities, information on each house, and a list of famous past MIT residents. Select halls will also be hosting guided tours inside the hall.

This is your opportunity to experience life outside the classroom at MIT!

Sponsor: Department of Housing

Timeline of MIT engineering

Engineering has been at the heart of MIT since the Institute was founded 150 years ago. As part of the Institute's anniversary celebration, the nine academic departments of the School of Engineering have collaborated to create a large, legible, and visually compelling history of MIT's research accomplishments and educational advances in engineering.

Sponsor: School of Engineering

Technology through time: 150 years of MIT history at the MIT Libraries' Maihaugen Gallery

This multimedia exhibition showcases in words, documents, photos, video and sound, the broad and varied history of MIT.

View original MIT documents and historically significant materials that played a role in making MIT the unique place it is today. The exhibit also features items from the MIT Museum's 150 Exhibition, as well as Infinite Histories, video stories of those who have shaped—and been shaped by—MIT.

Sponsor: Libraries

MIT150 welcome lounge

All are invited to visit the MIT150 welcome lounge, located in room 26-110, for information on the anniversary programs and events.

Visitors to the center may read books and watch videos about MIT, browse photographs from the Institute’s opening in 1861, and see items on loan from the MIT Museum.

Sponsor: MIT150 Committee

A showcase of invention as public service at MIT

A window to the work of public service innovators who are tackling barriers to well-being faced by people around the world. Learn about projects and meet teams competing for $150,000 in implementation grants in this year's IDEAS Competition and MIT Global Challenge.

Also join us in Kresge Auditorium on May 2 when we'll announce this year's winners at the awards celebration and reception.

Sponsor: Public Service Center

Eliot K. Wolk Gallery — design competition exhibit

The public face of MIT is 77 Massachusetts Avenue. The building, with its imposing Ionic porch and lofty interior, is not only an architectural landmark in its own right, but also the gateway into the world of MIT. Since its construction in 1939, the four plinths that define the corners of the great rotunda have remained empty. They were originally intended as the bases for statues celebrating Aristotle, Ictinus, Archimedes and Callicrates.

This year, in celebration of MIT’s 150th anniversary, the Class of 1954 issued a grand challenge to the students of MIT to present ideas about how to fill the four Lobby 7 plinths. Designs were to be created in the spirit of MIT’s official creed mens et manus and to celebrate the past, present, and future spirit of MIT innovation.

The Lobby 7 Design Competition Committee received fifty-four student entries from across the Institute's schools and departments. Of those, fourteen entries were chosen. The winners of that first round were then invited to refine their projects. From these, the jury selected the six finalists, and prize winners, in the undergraduate and graduate categories.

Sponsor: Department of Architecture

Greening MIT: implementing a sustainable future today

In May 2010, MIT announced the creation of the largest, boldest energy efficiency program their utility company NSTAR had ever developed. In May 2011, MIT will celebrate the opening of MIT's greenest and most energy efficient buildng on campus. Come learn about these and many other campus sustainability initiatives that are making a difference on campus and in your community. Learn how MIT's progress can help you save energy and money in your own home or business.

Sponsor: MIT Sustainability Program – EHS Headquarters Office

Hart Nautical Gallery exhibit

MIT Museum's Hart Nautical Collections were formed in 1924 under MIT's Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, which was renamed the Department of Ocean Engineering in the 1970s. In 2005, ocean engineering merged with the Department of Mechanical Engineering to become one of seven major research focus areas.

Featured exhibit: "The evolution of ship design"

Forty of the museum's finest full-hull ship models depict one thousand years of ship building, from a fifteenth century iron-clad warship to the swiftest clipper ships. Also included is an extraordinary model of N.G. Herreshoff's Reliance.

Sponsor: MIT Museum

What is the Engineering Systems Division (ESD)?

Watch a video about the MIT Engineering Systems Division, talk to students and staff, and take some ESD materials. There also will be videos about and info tables for the Leaders for Global Operations program and the MIT Portugal program.

Sponsor: Engineering Systems Division

Build a city with urban planners

Come join with Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) alum, James Rojas, and help us build a model of a city—and learn about city design and development in the process!

Sponsor: Department of Urban Studies and Planning

Celebrating discovery at MIT: an undergraduate research poster session

Since 1969, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, commonly known as “UROP," has been facilitating research collaborations between faculty and students, across all disciplines. Today, UROP is considered MIT’s "signature" program, and more than 85 percent of undergraduates participate.

This poster session will showcase current UROP students conducting research in a diverse and interesting array of areas that potentially include engineering, cancer, energy, linguistics, humanities, social science, robotics, media studies, artificial intelligence, and others.

Sponsor: Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming

A planner's scavenger hunt

This self-guided scavenger hunt will help children and their families appreciate the role of urban planners in thinking about how community space is organized and utilized. Individuals who complete the scavenger hunt will receive a special prize!

Sponsor: Department of Urban Studies and Planning

The dawn of MIT: its founding documents and buildings

Come see and learn about MIT’s origins. This extraordinary exhibit will include MIT’s original charter, on loan from the Massachusetts State Archives just for this occasion, as well as other significant documents and artifacts.

On display to the general public for the first time is an original pen and ink drawing by architect William Welles Bosworth of the Cambridge campus Building 10. Did you know it used to be number 17? This is a rare opportunity to glimpse treasured materials from the founding of the Institute.

Sponsor: MIT Libraries and the Department of Facilities

Festival of Art + Science + Technology Installations (FAST): Overliner

Origami on a large scale, Taking cues from a stairwell's spiraling geometry, Overliner highlights the architectural idiosyncrasies of a public space, transforming a familiar and busy passageway into a moment of surprise and repose.

Location: Medical Center Lobby. By Joel Lamere, Lecturer, Department of Architecture, and Cynthia Gunadi

Sponsor: Office of the Arts

Campus construction: past and future

Changes in technology affect everyone including the people who design and construct the buildings on campus.

Explore the technological changes in drawing software of the past few decades and what lies ahead.

Check out the tools used to build and repair the buildings. Hammer and nails. Not any more!

On display will be design software of past decades and the newest used to build the Stata Center. Included in the exhibit are blueprints of buildings, aerial views of campus, and a sneak peak at what's ahead for the MIT campus.

Sponsor: Department of Facilities

GAMBIT game lab open house

Game on! It's playtime at the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab!

Find out what a game research lab does: take a tour of the lab, talk to its researchers and developers who spend their days pushing the envelope of video game innovation, and, of course, play our latest game prototypes.

For a preview, go to to play our online games.

Sponsor: Comparative Media Studies

Residential Life information booth

The Office of Residential Life includes Dining, FSILGs, Housing, and Residential Life Programs.

Staff from each of these areas will be available to answer any questions you may have about our residential system. Walking tour maps of the residence halls will be available at the booth and the 2011 Residence Hall Time Capsule will be on display.

Sponsor: Department of Housing

Digital mapping tools introduced by MIT GIS services

Learn about creating maps with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and collecting data in your community with a global positioning system (GPS) unit. A GIS provides tools for analyzing scientific and cultural data, as well as data collected by individuals (like you). Session will include demonstration and a chance for everyone to collect data outside and create their own maps.

Sponsor: MIT Libraries

Center for Bits and Atoms Digital Fabrication Facility and Fab Lab network

MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms manages a unique digital fabrication facility for making and measuring things from nanometers to meters.

This event will provide interactive, hands-on introductions to CBA's tools for producing and scanning nano/micro/meso/macro-structures, and to their use in its global network of field fab labs.

Sponsor: Program in Media Arts and Sciences

Architecture open house

Visit the MIT start-up showcase to meet and interact with individuals from local start-ups ranging from the life sciences to clean energy.

Learn firsthand from successful entrepreneurs how MIT research discoveries lead to the creation of new businesses and how these companies impact your everyday life.

Sponsor: Department of Architecture

Rotch Library of Architecture and Planning

Originally built in 1938 as part of the William Barton Rogers Building designed by William Welles Bosworth with Harry J. Carlson, MIT's Rotch Library of Architecture and Planning is one of the premier architecture libraries in the United States, supporting the first architecture program in the country, with the first professor hired in 1865 and the first classes taught in 1868 at the original Boston campus. The Rotch Library is open for tours from 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM.

Sponsor: MIT Libraries

MIT OpenCourseWare: unlocking knowledge and empowering minds

Come learn about MIT OpenCourseWare – a website that makes course materials used in the teaching of almost all of MIT’s undergraduate and graduate subjects available, free of charge, to any user anywhere in the world. Hear about our milestones as we celebrate our 10th anniversary, and find out about our next decade initiatives.

Sponsor: OpenCourseWare

Compton Gallery — MIT150 exhibition

Located in the heart of campus under the big dome, the MIT Museum's Compton Gallery is a changing exhibition space where visitors encounter a wide range of exhibitions that encompass the varied fields of science, technology, architecture, history, and art.

Sponsor: MIT Museum

Meet MIT authors! Book signing with Sandy Pentland, author of "Honest Signals: How They Shape Our World"

Please join us at the MIT Press Bookstore for a series of book signings with celebrated faculty authors. Each of our special guests has recently published a book with the MIT Press, MIT's renowned publishing house. Come and meet the authors, learn about their research, and check out the newly expanded bookstore!

11:30am — Alex (Sandy) Pentland

"Honest Signals: How They Shape Our World"

How understanding the signaling within social networks can change the way we make decisions, work with others, and manage organizations.

Sponsor: MIT Press

Media Laboratory project demonstrations

Designers, engineers, artists, and scientists at the MIT Media Lab apply an unorthodox research approach to envision the impact of emerging technologies on everyday life technologies which promise to fundamentally transform our most basic notions of human capabilities.

Research topics range from neuroengineering, to how children learn, to the future of story and music, to re-imagining the city.

Researchers present examples of the Media Lab's inventions, many of which can be experienced hands-on.

Sponsor: Media Laboratory

System design and management open house

Cosponsored by MIT's School of Engineering and the MIT Sloan School of Management, the System Design and Management (SDM) master's program in engineering and management educates mid-career professionals to lead effectively and creatively by using systems thinking to solve large-scale, complex challenges in product design, development, and innovation.

This session will feature a short presentation from program Fellows, followed by a poster session where attendees will be able to learn about ongoing work and about the program in general.

Sponsor: System Design and Management

MIT Public Service Center

Through the MIT Public Service Center's suite of programs, MIT students have developed and implemented a potable water system in Ecuador’s Amazonian communities, designed a "smart pill-box" to help TB patients with their rigorous regime of TB medication, and helped middle-school students in Cambridge with their reading, to name a few of the many projects in which MIT students engage their hearts and minds.

Meet the staff and learn more about these and other projects at the Public Service Center's snack break.

Sponsor: Public Service Center

Urban planning public lectures

Back-to-back-to-back short public lectures with distinguished alumni of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

Sponsor: Department of Urban Studies and Planning

Gender, race, and the complexities of science and technology

Join graduate students from all nine Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies member institutions (Boston College, Boston University, Brandeis University, Harvard University, MIT, Northeastern University, Simmons College, and UMass Boston) in an exploration of gender and race as it applies to the disciplines of science and technology.

Students from the GCWS course Gender, Race, and the Complexities of Science and Technology: A Problem-based learning approach taught by Sally Haslanger (Professor of Philosophy, MIT) and Peter Taylor (Professor in the Science in a Changing World program at UMass Boston) will present their ongoing research on topics as diverse as race and technology access, anarchism and science, the radical science movement, and more.

Presentations will be interactive.

Sponsor: School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences