Image of Ray and Maria Stata Center Ray and Maria Stata Center
Ray and Maria Stata Center

Even in an era of celebrity fascination, few architects are household names, but Frank Gehry probably comes closest to star status of anyone in his profession. MIT’s choice to hire Gehry to design the Ray and Maria Stata Center, a research and academic facility to replace the famous “Building 20,” represented a bold experiment in a new architectural language for the campus. The experience proved equal to MIT’s engagement with architectural visionaries Alvar Aalto and Eero Saarinen in the decade after World War II. Further, the experiment has had a healthy mixed response at MIT, which for decades had established a conservative “corporate academic” approach to commissioning new architecture. It is difficult to be ambivalent about Gehry’s vision or his extremely complex design of curved, inclined, and projecting forms and enormous material variety. Yet, however one experiences this monumental structure (430,000 square feet above ground; more than 700,000 square feet counting the below-ground parking garage), it energizes a dialogue about the meaning and function in architecture—a discussion that, some would argue, was largely absent at MIT for decades.

Exhibited:
Conceptual Design Model Ray and Maria Stata Center
Frank Gehry
2004
Loan from Gehry Partners, LLP.

photo: MIT News Office

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