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Monday, January 2, 2012

Steven Holl - MIT Students Residence

The undergraduate residence is envisioned with the concept of "porosity." It is a vertical slice of city, 10 stories tall and 382' long, providing a 125 seat theater, a night café, and street level dining. The "sponge" concept transforms the building via a series of programmatic and bio-technical functions. The building has five large openings corresponding to main entrances, view corridors, and outdoor activity terraces. Large, dynamic openings are the lungs, bringing natural light down and moving air up. Each of the dormitory's single rooms has nine operable windows. An 18" wall depth shades out the summer sun while allowing the low angled winter sun to help heat the building. At night, light from these windows is rhythmic and magical.

Steven Holl is one of America's top ranking architects.  The dormitory at MIT shows a impressive in its sheer scale. The fenestration is unique in its massiveness and relentless grid like nature - yet there is something a bit reminiscent of early Italian modernism as seen in Casa Del Fascio yet on a bigger scale.  The rigidity of form is relieved with playful cutouts that occur in a seemingly random fashion. Perhaps one of the most interesting moments occurs on the interior in the student lounge with an organic light well that contrasts beautifully against the cellular nature of the rest of the building.  The concrete floors and ceilings are a bit cold - but the painted windows adds a bit of play.  - Ecomanta