MIT New 450-bed Residence Hall | 121 Vassar St. | Cambridge

nm88

Active Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2007
Messages
527
Reaction score
112
That's a little brutal, but okay. I've vented my share of disdain on this board so who am I to criticize. For me, much of what gets built in this town is more real estate calculation than actual architecture. (It's unfortunate that the two leading firms in the city are so responsible. But I digress.) This dorm, personal taste aside, is at least an attempt at more than just maximize-the-footprint at the lowest possible cost, architecture be damned. It's the perfect place to take a risk like this - somewhat removed - don't you think? Higher education should be forward-thinking and not risk-adverse. Nonetheless, risk is just that - risky. I have an inkling the real clients - students - will like this building. Time will tell.
 

Bananarama

Active Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2020
Messages
370
Reaction score
597
You know what elevates this project 10-fold for me? The lack of damned alucabond metal panels.
 

stick n move

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2009
Messages
7,517
Reaction score
2,338
I think this picture emphasizes pretty well that for a massive landscraper, the way it breaks up the street wall is actually not bad. Once the trees grow in and the ground floor is finished its gonna be pretty alright. Its not amazing, but its not crap either imo.

I think as a visually interesting infill project it gets the job done. I think itll work fine as a building that fades into the fabric once complete, but at the same time isnt completely anonymous.
 
Last edited:

kz1000ps

Senior Member
Joined
May 28, 2006
Messages
8,001
Reaction score
2,887
For me, much of what gets built in this town is more real estate calculation than actual architecture.
Well that's why I'm brutal on it. This board is called archBoston, not ProFormaBoston and I've lost my ability to sugar coat my words when it comes to stuff like this -- 5+ years in developer-dominated NYC will fill you with a lot of disdain.

Agreed that they did something reasonably creative with the massing, but there's just so many areas where the design took some brutal VE blows that I don't think there's much left to sift through. Granted, I hadn't been following this project at all until the latest round of pictures, so this is basically a kneejerk internet hot take that should probably be taken with a grain of salt and a shot of bourbon. So while it's almost certainly crap, it'll probably be just fine in the long run.
 

stellarfun

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2006
Messages
5,184
Reaction score
501
The orange is very close to University of Texas 'orange', Pantone PMS 159. The white looks to be 0, 0, 0, 0.




So close, a Longhorn alum might think the building is a UTexas@Austin outpost in Cambridge
 

whighlander

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2006
Messages
7,812
Reaction score
639
The orange is very close to University of Texas 'orange', Pantone PMS 159. The white looks to be 0, 0, 0, 0.




So close, a Longhorn alum might think the building is a UTexas@Austin outpost in Cambridge
Watch--it

Don't mess with Texas

as both an MIT and U Texas alum -- this is a very sensitive subject

The best that can be said about the building is that for an Ugrad dorm at MIT built post the 1960's -- its not as bad as it could be
Generally -- the only nice new dormitory*1 is Maseeh Hall which has opened since my 1970's time as a Ugrad --
all of the rest including my dorm McGregor could be flushed without any loss [Ok I'll grant that the "Punchcard" once had some humour value now so anachronistic as to be unrecognizable to any student and most of the faculty]



*1
in name with significant interior renovations] [which of course existed since the prior to the prior century] as a luxury hotel/ residence [open in 1901 -- purchased by MIT 1930's -- made into Graduate Dorm [Ashdown House] - then remade into Ugrad dorm by gift from Fariborz Maseeh ScD ’90
 

Bananarama

Active Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2020
Messages
370
Reaction score
597
The best that can be said about the building is that for an Ugrad dorm at MIT built post the 1960's -- its not as bad as it could be
Generally -- the only nice new dormitory*1 is Maseeh Hall which has opened since my 1970's time as a Ugrad --
all of the rest including my dorm McGregor could be flushed without any loss [Ok I'll grant that the "Punchcard" once had some humour value now so anachronistic as to be unrecognizable to any student and most of the faculty]
Baker House is pretty nice, no? At least the plan is quite beautiful, nice brickwork.
3714mi08.gif

37518640674_93a7797c59_b.jpg
 

George_Apley

Not a Brahmin
Staff member
Joined
Jan 22, 2012
Messages
5,078
Reaction score
1,619
Is the white paint already running into the orange in that first pic??
 

flaneur

New member
Joined
Oct 22, 2020
Messages
1
Reaction score
0
I agree. But its kind of like a 'why take up all that space for that!' building. Im surprised they didnt cut the amount of land they took up by 1/3, and added 3-4 stories to this. I hope the street wall effect is good atleast. (Im thinking positive here!)
I suspect they capped the height based on fire code (I could be wrong, of course). There is essentially a height area that is impractical to build, based on construction costs due to code requirement jumps. You either build 6 or under, or over 10. Rarely in between.
Nope, you can build much higher here. The lower height was designer preference.
 

shmessy

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 4, 2010
Messages
2,293
Reaction score
1,371
Knock it down and start over.

I don't understand for WHOSE enjoyment was this joke?

Did the architect ever ask, who benefits from this?
 

Bananarama

Active Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2020
Messages
370
Reaction score
597
The photos are from mid July. I imagine it's a good deal more complete now with the awnings and ground level finishes?

I used to hate this project, but now I sort of love it...
 

shmessy

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 4, 2010
Messages
2,293
Reaction score
1,371
The photos are from mid July. I imagine it's a good deal more complete now with the awnings and ground level finishes?

I used to hate this project, but now I sort of love it...
You mean, THIS happened since July???? I sure hope you're right.

1603462823066.png
 
Last edited:

Bananarama

Active Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2020
Messages
370
Reaction score
597
You mean, THIS happened since July????
Hahaha well...
I'm starting to enjoy how playful the massing and material coding/fenestration is. It's a very limited palette of brick and forms, but they do a lot with that small kit of parts to make it interesting. The orange figures are fun and do a lot to breakup the long white bar.
It also makes a lot of sense for its location. Next to the giant Steven Holl... thing. On the MIT campus, which is already known for oddities. There isn't some precious historic context to work into.
 

shmessy

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 4, 2010
Messages
2,293
Reaction score
1,371
Hahaha well...
I'm starting to enjoy how playful the massing and material coding/fenestration is. It's a very limited palette of brick and forms, but they do a lot with that small kit of parts to make it interesting. The orange figures are fun and do a lot to breakup the long white bar.
It also makes a lot of sense for its location. Next to the giant Steven Holl... thing. On the MIT campus, which is already known for oddities. There isn't some precious historic context to work into.
I must say, you make excellent points about the location/context. I GoogleMapped 121 Vassar and that actually DOES fit in well with the context on that street.

It is the exact opposite of the situation with the BU Stack o' Books (or Stack o' Shipping Containers) building going up on Comm Ave which completely bigfoots its neighborhood with a "Look at Me, I'm Cancelling You Guys out" raspberry.

I had been judging this building completely on its own, without taking context in mind. Your post got me to look deeper at this and come to a different conclusion. Thank you!
 

Top