SCUP/AIA-CAE Excellence in Architecture for Restoration or Preservation,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology for Fariborz Maseeh Residence Hall with Miller Dyer Spears Inc.
|Photo by Benjamin Johnson|
MIT began a feasibility study in 2006 to renovate and convert Ashdown House (originally a hotel) from a graduate to an undergraduate dormitory. Renamed Fariborz Maseeh Hall, it is centrally located and serves as gateway to the campus.
This challenging renovation project’s goal was to restore the oldest building on campus to last another 100 years. The vision was to provide a ﬁrst-rate residential facility, support informal learning community at the heart of the campus, and be a dynamic new “social laboratory” where students could collectively imagine the future and prepare to lead it.
MIT hoped to restore the exterior to its original grandeur, repair building envelope deﬁciencies, replace windows and upgrade the mechanical systems to protect the integrity of the building and improve energy efﬁciency. The entrance lobby offered the biggest design challenge and most interesting opportunities.
In 2008, MIT selected two professors as housemasters to develop this new living community. They met with ten undergraduates from across campus and formed an incubator community called ‘The Phoenix Group’ to symbolize the rebirth of an undergraduate community from the ‘ashes’ of Ashdown.
The team learned about the Cambridge University model for a living and learning environment by visiting and staying in several of the colleges. That experience set the vision for Maseeh as an integrated living/learning community.
The jury said, “ . . . an amazing project . . . love story about how it started as hotel then graduate housing . . . ground floor space is so compelling . . . very complex project to undertake and they did it well . . . an important building for them . . .”
Modern updates include a game room, media room, conference rooms, a small gym, writable whiteboards and walls on every floor. The scholars and professors residing in these apartments foster, guide, support student learning, along with growth and development in the living community.
Chancellor Eric Grimson PhD 80’ says “The best part has been observing a fascinating phenomenon here at MIT: people talk with one another in this space, and it has become a wonderful new crucible of community on campus.”
Richard L. Amster, Jr., director, department of facilities, campus planning, engineering and construction, says, “The entire design approach fosters a sense of community.”
Project Team: Massachusetts Institute of Technology for Fariborz Maseeh Residence Hall with Miller Dyer Spears Inc.; also Shawmut Design and Construction; R.W. Sullivan and Associates, Inc.; Souza, True and Partners, Inc.; Michael Immel Landscape Architect; Simpson Gumpertz and Heger Inc.; Preservation Technologies Associates, Inc.; Light This; Samiotes Consultants, Inc.; Hughes Associates; Ricca Newmark; The Green Engineer