MIT 2030: A Capital Planning Framework for the Future
Reprinted from the MIT Faculty Newsletter, Vol. XXIV No. 4, March/April 2012.
The November/December 2011 issue of the Faculty Newsletter (FNL) featured a number of articles about MIT 2030. We appreciate having this opportunity to reflect on the engagement that has occurred to date, and to renew our commitment to fully engage the MIT community in this ongoing conversation.
In listening to the comments and concerns of the community regarding MIT 2030, we have heard a couple of overarching themes that we wish to address. We agree that it is of the utmost importance to ensure that MIT will pass on an outstanding physical campus and surrounding environment to future generations, and in doing this we are mindful of two principles moving forward:
MIT 2030 is intended to be a framework to assist the Institute in making thoughtful, well-informed choices about development and renewal in the years ahead for both the campus and the innovation district close by. It is intended to be flexible and responsive, to provide structure without limiting possibilities, and to accommodate new strategic initiatives, as yet unknown, that will need to be supported in the future.
While five projects have emerged as early areas of planning focus: nano materials, structures and systems (nMaSS), energy and environment, and the renovation of E52, Walker Memorial Hall and sections of Building 2 – this is only the beginning of the many opportunities that can be addressed within the MIT 2030 framework.
These five initial priorities resulted from an extensive planning effort that began with an academic visioning process in 2008. It continued as we worked to translate the vision into the physical needs of the campus, assessing building conditions, and projecting space needs based on programmatic requirements and available campus capacity. During calendar year 2010, close to 50 discussions took place to engage the community about campus and Kendall Square planning efforts. These meetings involved Academic Council, an open faculty forum, numerous discussions with Deans and Department Heads across all five Schools, and planning sessions with School of Architecture and Planning faculty. All of MIT’s senior leadership were engaged in the planning process. Moving forward, we see many opportunities to engage the faculty more broadly in refining and developing this framework, and we are committed to seeing that happen. Please refer to the MIT 2030 engagement timeline.
While MIT 2030 is all about looking forward, we believe that the instincts that drive it are as old as the Institute itself. MIT has long used its physical space not merely to allow for teaching and research, but also to inspire. The Great Dome is there for a reason: its architect, William Bosworth, wanted a focal point for the campus that would have us all setting our sights upward. Nearly 100 years after the dome went up, the glass walls in the Media Lab invite fascination, and the composition of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research – half life scientists and half engineers – is its own breathtaking statement about MIT’s belief in the power of convergence. The campus has always been an inspiring place, and guided by MIT 2030, we will seek to keep it that way.
Accelerating the Power of Innovation
The recent FNL articles may have suggested that MIT’s academic campus and our investment properties are in competition, or that we may be losing sight of the primacy of our academic mission, but we believe that the two work together to enhance innovation and opportunity. The area around MIT is almost unique in having MIT as the center of gravity that attracts innovative talent and companies, from startups to established research enterprises, to the neighborhood. The lines between academic disciplines, between academic and industry research, are more porous than ever.
Four themes express the vision of MIT 2030. (Visit the MIT 2030 Website to learn more about these themes.)
The theme of innovation and collaboration is the foundation of our campus planning, and continues MIT's longstanding relationship with industry, which has helped to transform Kendall Square and had a great impact on the Cambridge landscape with developments in Technology Square and University Park. Kendall Square has become a magnet for talented people and innovative companies who understand MIT and want to collaborate with us. ?The result is an innovation district able to accelerate the power of invention and innovation with an ecosystem of small inventive companies and larger research-intensive organizations that are perfectly aligned with our mission. Together, this ecosystem provides opportunities for advancing the mission of MIT, entering into promising research collaborations, offering internship opportunities, and opening employment options for our graduating students.
It should be noted that all parcels that abut the campus under consideration for development, whether for academic or investment purposes, require the same oversight process through our governance structure. This includes review and endorsement by the Committee for the Review of Space Planning (CRSP), the Building Committee, and the Executive Committee, and this process is followed rigorously to ensure that academic interests are protected.
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We share the belief that MIT 2030’s success depends on it being a true collaboration between MIT’s faculty and administration. We also believe that student participation is critical.
As we work to keep pace with the Institute’s evolving needs, the guiding principles that steered us through the recent financial crisis will continue to guide us here.
We personally know how well MIT does when we bring people together to solve problems, having served together as co-chairs of the Institute-wide Planning Task Force, formed in response to the financial crisis of 2008. The Task Force of over 200 members of the MIT community was dedicated to finding creative solutions to the problem of cutting spending. MIT met the challenge successfully because it relied on its collective wisdom, with the principles of transparency and inclusiveness assuring an open dialog.
In addition to the five initial areas of focus, we have begun planning for how to invest in capital renewal, and we look forward to engaging the community in this process. We will work to ensure that all areas of student life are considered, and that academic and student priorities are met.
The Chancellor and the Dean for Student Life, as well as the academic and education deans, will be integral to this process that will allocate $250M for accelerated capital renewal over the next three years, so that we may begin to address the overall deferred maintenance backlog. Moving forward, we want to renew and expand our commitment to ensuring that engagement occurs around specific charges and questions that are important to the Institute and its planning efforts, and that we all benefit by everyone’s collective input, ingenuity, and creativity. As we work to create ongoing opportunities for greater input we will also find better ways to share the input we receive.
In reading the recent FNL and editorials in The Tech we understand that our faculty and many of our students have a profound interest in MIT 2030, and we welcome the input and collaboration from all aspects of our community. Over the near term faculty and student input will be especially important as we begin the planning process in the areas of teaching and learning, residential life and open space, and as we continue to work to revitalize Kendall Square.
The Working Group on the Future of Teaching and Learning Spaces at MIT, chaired by Professor John Brisson, has been convened to create a strategic plan for educational space needs at the Institute as envisioned by the faculty. In addition, Eric Grimson and Chris Colombo have initiated a study of future renovation needs for existing student housing, including related opportunities for informal learning and discovery.
We are also working with the Chair of the Faculty Samuel Allen to create opportunities to engage the Faculty Policy Committee and the broader faculty at monthly Institute faculty meetings or other venues. We will pursue opportunities for dialog at Deans and Department Head meetings, and will communicate about ongoing efforts through future issues of the Faculty Newsletter and increased coverage from the MIT News Office.
We will also work to engage students in these discussions. The editorial in the February 10 edition of The Tech urges students to take an active interest in 2030, and we echo that sentiment. We will work with the Chancellor and Deans for Graduate Education, Undergraduate Education, and Student Life, as well as student leadership to create opportunities for students to get involved.
In closing, we want to affirm our commitment to creating increased forums for open dialog and fruitful engagement with the MIT community about MIT 2030 concepts and future directions for our campus planning activities. We embrace the opportunities to draw upon the expertise of the faculty in the planning process and to incorporate student input in the design and character of our campus, and we look forward to continuing the conversation.
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