Baker House Dormitory, MIT

Added by admin, last update: July 23, 2014, 5:52 pm

Location
362 Memorial Drive
Cambridge 02139
United States
42° 21' 24.8652" N, 71° 5' 44.286" W
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Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Education (EDC)
Secondary classification:
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):
History of Building/Site
Original Brief:
Dates: Commission / Completion:Commission 1946(e), completion 1949(e).
Architectural and other Designer(s): Alvar Aalto, design architect Perry Shaw and Hepburn, architects of record
Others associated with Building/Site:
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s):
Current Use: Student housing (dormitory).
Current Condition: Most of exterior is in very good condition. Windows were replaced with inauthentic units in 1970s. Interior is well worn, but still in reasonably good condition. The entire building is in process of being renovated and restored (completion 1999).
General Description:
Construction Period:
Original Physical Context:
Evaluation
Technical Evaluation:
Social:
Cultural & Aesthetic:
Historical:
General Assessment:
Baker House at MIT is the first major building to synthesize European Modernism with the regional material vernacular of New England. It is also a pivotal building in Aalto's career and the most significant of his works in North America. Commissioned by MIT to design the first building in what would become a major postwar program of student life facilities, Aalto responded with a unique parti. An undulating slab, clad in the rough brick of the region√s Georgian vernacular (the first use of exposed brick by Aalto), is set along the Charles River. A series of spaces, axially inflected back toward the heart of the campus, bisect the slab near its mid-point. The termination of this axis is a two-story dining pavilion, clad in limestone with wood framed ribbon windows and Aalto's signature bank of circular skylights. On the north facade hangs a great stucco-clad stair whose rough, Constructivist aesthetic is a direct response to the industrial East Cambridge neighborhood in which the building was originally set. This structure is itself one of the finest examples of functionalist design in the US.
Documentation
Text references:
Authoring
Recorder/Date: DOCOMOMO US New England Chapter, June 1998
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