|spotlight: Why shouldn't architecture be fun?|
The Ray and Maria Stata Center for computer, information, and intelligence sciences
"It's a pleasure to welcome a work of architecture that embodies serious thinking about how people live and work, and at the same time shouts the joy of invention." - Robert Campbell, architecture critic, Boston Globe
On the threshold of a new century and millennium, MIT had the responsibility of constructing a new home for computer, information, and intelligence sciences. Everyone involved in the decision recognized that this could be no ordinary building: MIT needed to be as bold at the start of the twenty-first century as our predecessors had been at the start of the twentieth. The time had come to build a facility, the physical form of which signaled the intellectual brashness, energy, and excellence held within.
The success of Frank Gehry's Stata Center can be judged fully only many years hence. The most important criteria should be the traditional ones: Did it support world-class research? Was it a place that faculty and staff enjoyed coming to each day throughout its career? Did its classrooms enable students and faculty to go about their businesses of teaching and learning effectively and efficiently? In short, is it a great place to teach, study, work, and conduct research?
But other criteria for success are specific to the special nature of this building and how well they have been met will be apparent within its first few years. Does the Student Street raise the spirits of the young men and women who learn, meet, and commune along it? Do the building's occupants occasionally discover new views, perspectives, images, forms, or patterns that intrigue, challenge, or simply provide them with enjoyment or amusement? Do people think about elements or spaces and ask themselves, why did Frank Gehry do this? and do they have an inkling of the answer? Does it inspire us and open our thinking? Is it a suitable icon for our distinguished Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science? Does it enhance and reflect the evolving culture of MIT?
The most frequently asked question during design and construction was, will it stand the test of time? In my view, it almost certainly will, but it will not be a "timeless" structure. It will always be obvious when it was built and who designed it. And I think we will be proud of that.
-Charles M. Vest
(excerpted from the preface to Building Stata, published by the MIT Press)
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