Cambridge’s iconic brick and stone architecture gets a surprise twist thanks to the 720,000-square-foot steel, aluminum, brick, and corrugated metal Ray and Maria Stata Center for Computer, Information and Intelligence Sciences at MIT. Major funding for the building was provided by MIT graduate Ray Stata, whose eponymous labs were acquired by Yahoo in 2004. Also known as Building 32, the Stata Center was designed by legendary Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry on the site of the former Radiation Center at MIT. The Radiation Center was built as a temporary timber structure and operated during World War II to develop sensitive radar machines; some of its original wood was used in the flooring for the MIT Stata Center.
Those passing down Massachusetts Avenue will want to take a second look as the MIT Stata Center appears to be bending forward gracefully into the street. The building seems to be artistically rippling and bowing before it splits into two parts after the fourth floor: the Gates (after donor Bill Gates) and Dreyfoos (as in MIT grad Alexander W. Dreyfoos Jr.) Towers. The Center houses auditoriums and classrooms as well as the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems, and the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy. Visitors to the Stata Center will get a chuckle as the MIT Museum houses historic pranks thought up by MIT students on the ground floor, including a fire hose drinking fountain and life-size replicas of a cow and police car.
The MIT Stata Center is more than a beautiful piece of architecture; the building has a storm water retention system that uses biofiltration and an irrigation system that uses weather forecasts to control water output. The Center won the 2005 Grand Award for Engineering Excellence by the American Council of Engineering Companies.