The Stata Center at MIT, an office building for computer science researchers, has been in the news recently due to a spat between MIT and the architect. What’s it like to work in the building? Here’s an excerpt from a mailing list discussion… (reproduced with permission from the author, who continues to work in the building and wishes to remain anonymous)
The Stata Center sux big hairy green rocks from the coast of Maine. Far too little storage space (while there are vast volumes of what is presumably architecturally interesting open space — that are unreachable by humans), every group walled off into pod spaces, most support staff are stuck out in open space rather than the offices they had in Technology Square [Ed: the former location of the lab; a vanilla 1960s box of an office tower; referred to as “tech square” or “NE43”], most grad students have to sit around in open space areas (rather than having offices — shared offices, but at least with closable doors and some amount of personal storage), many grad students are offered lockers — as in, the sort they have in high schools — to store their stuff in. Graduate students tend to take over various conference rooms to hack in (on their laptops).
The building is so convoluted that people not familiar with it need trained native guides to find their ways around — hardly inviting to visitors.
The research pod areas are bad in two ways: lack of natural communication between groups even on the same floor (amplifies the tech^2 problems of vertical communication), and lack of a natural way to expand and contract office space used by a group as the research funding ebbs & flows.
I was always told that What We Wanted was something with -somewhat- more
public space than tech^2, and openable windows. What we got, instead, was
an Architect’s Signature Building. It sucks.