Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)
Renewing the Building to Revitalize the Community
Built in 1974, New House was designed to house nine distinct affinity communities. Students join as freshmen and, live, shop, cook, dine, and socialize around shared academic focus or identity until they graduate. It has remained a highly sought-after living choice since its inception.
Rather than demolish and replace the poorly functioning, inaccessible building, MIT has chosen to invest in New House, taking advantage of its lovely riverfront site and the physical form of the building, which supports the uncommon community there. Our renovation, currently in design, addresses pressing exterior envelop issues (window and cavity wall failures and related energy concerns), solves extensive accessibility concerns throughout the structure, and renews HVAC systems within a highly constrained 8’-3” floor-to-floor height. Design will be completed in six months, and construction is planned in two phases over 15 months, in order to minimize disruption.
The most transformative aspects of the project are changes that will better support the affinity communities of New House while preserving its distinct culture. These include:
- Relocating kitchens and dining to upper floors to embed that important part of communal life into the heart of each community.
- Introducing a “commons corridor” through the ground floor, lined with social spaces, that will support a greater sense of shared identity in the building.
- Opening spaces onto the courtyards facing the Charles River to better capitalize on the building’s remarkable (and, under current regulations, largely unbuildable) site.
Our design will maintain the current bed-count at 288 while increasing the proportion of shared space in the building. The project maintains this balance by focusing on communal over private space, increasing the amount, scale, and visibility of common spaces throughout the building.