Is MIT a Good Place to Live?
The University Campus as a Residential Environment

Jeffrey C. Roberts

S.B. in Planning
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2002

Submitted to the Department of Urban Studies and Planning in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Master in City Planning
at the
June 2003

copyright MMIII Jeffrey C. Roberts. All rights reserved.


In this study, I approach the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from the perspective of campus residents. Considering the campus as a neighborhood, I analyze and evaluate the effects of the physical campus on its residents' quality of life. After presenting a historical overview of the MIT residential campus and the ideas that have influenced it, as well as a synopsis of background information on the MIT residential experience, I present the results of a series of discussions held at residences around the MIT campus on the topic of how the campus performs as a residential environment. To conclude, I first define a set of criteria, based on the results of the discussions, by which the MIT campus might be analyzed and evaluated from a residential point of view. I then find that the MIT campus has many features that are not supportive of its residential function, and suggest some strategies for the future development that might improve the campus as a residential environment.

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  • Preface
  • Chapter 1. Introduction
    1.1 University as Neighborhood
    1.2 Is MIT a Good Place to Live?
  • Chapter 2. Historical Overview of Residence at MIT and Other Universities
    2.1 Pre-American University Residence
    2.2 The Early American Colleges
    2.3 The University Movement
    2.4 Fraternity Housing
    2.5 Campus Planning and the Residence Hall Tradition
    2.6 The House System
    2.7 MIT Planning 1950-1990
    2.8 MIT Planning 1990-present
    2.9 Continuing Themes and Current Implications
  • Chapter 3. Background Information on the MIT Residential Experience
    3.1 The MIT Academic and Research Experience
    3.2 The MIT Housing System
    3.3 The MIT Campus Neighborhood
    3.4 Food, Entertainment, and Retail Service
    3.5 Transportation Service
  • Chapter 4. Discussions with Residents on the MIT Campus Environment
    4.1 Overview of Methodology
    4.2 Conversation on Reasons for Having a Residential Campus
    4.3 Conversations on the MIT Campus
    4.3.1 Resource Provision
    4.3.2 Campus Layout
    4.3.3 Campus Feel
  • Chapter 5. Conclusions and Strategies
    5.1 A Framework for Analyzing and Evaluating the Residential Campus
    5.2 The MIT Residential Experience
    5.3 Strategies for Future Development
    5.4 Further Considerations
  • Appendix A: Figures and Maps for Chapters 2 and 3
  • Appendix B: Chart (PDF 3.0K) and Map (PDF 640K) of Residence Discussion Sessions

  • Copyright MMIII Jeffrey C. Roberts. All rights reserved.