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Cambridge, MA, United States, 1999-2002

PROGRAM: 350 bed dormitory including a dining hall, auditorium, and other shared facilities
CLIENT: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
SIZE: 195,000 sf
STATUS: completed

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.
'With its cast-concrete exoskeleton clad in sanded aluminum, the chameleonlike building changes appearance according to light conditions. Holes in the entry canopy play against the grid's regular rhythm, providing a whimsical rendition of the porosity theme'.
-Sarah Amelar, Architectural Record, May, 2003
'The strands of Holl's architecture reduce to no single, unifying thread, yet, in its own way, each strand is consistent in its intentions, as in his non-ideological vision of architecture "subject to circumstance" and his tendency to develop mythical or metaphorical reference, tied to the building's purpose or setting, as it is actually being built'.
-Abitare 427, April, 2003
'If student life is in fact a rehearsal for the future life of civil society, this project can be said to revolutionize everyday life in the university, releasing the ordinary street into a world of experiment and play as an alternative to political apathy and personal isolation. All of 140 meters long and ten stories tall, Simmons Hall is a slice of a city that echoes Holl's own earlier preoccupation with the edge of the city. The relatively wide corridors connecting the rooms turn the hallway into a street-like environment that benefits from the porous morphology in providing unexpected openings, lounges and common halls. These collective spaces are intended to bring students together, to provoke interaction and dialogue'.
-Safran Yehuda, Domus 858, April, 2003
'An interplay of opposites has been characteristic of Steven Holl's architecture since his emergence on the New York design scene now a quarter of a century ago. Balancing or intermingling solid and void, opaque and transparent, the rational and the intuitive, Holl has aimed to build buildings with memorable plastic sensibility. For Simmons Hall, the new undergraduate dormitory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Holl infects a perforated, monolithic box with contained spaces that curve and unfold towards natural light'.
-Raymund Ryan, The Architectural Review, January, 2004

Progressive Architecture Awards, USA, 2000
Charles Harleston Parker Medal, ARchitecture Boston Annual Design Awards, USA, 2003
ACEC Engineering Excellence Honor Award, USA, 2004
National AIA Design Award, USA, 2003
Best of Boston New Building Award, USA, 2003
Association of General Contractors Build Massachusetts Award, USA, 2003
NY AIA Design Award, USA, 2002

– Steven Holl Architects
Steven Holl, Tim Bade (design architect)
Tim Bade (project architect)
Mohammed Ziad Jamaleddine, Anderson Lee (assistant project architect)
Gabriela Barman-Kraemer, Peter Burns, Annette Goderbauer, Mimi Hoang, Mohammed Ziad Jamaleddine, Matt Johnson, Makram El-Kadi, Erik Fenstad Langdalen, Anderson Lee, Rong-hui Lin, Stephen O'Dell, Christian Wassmann (project team)

local architect
– Perry Dean Rogers & Partners

design structural engineer
– Guy Nordenson and Associates

project engineer
– Guy Nordenson and Associates
Christopher Diamond
– Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
John Thompson

structural engineer
– Simpson Gumpertz & Heger

mechanical engineer
– Ove Arup & Partners

lighting consultant
– Fisher Marantz Stone

construction manager
– Daniel O'Connell's Sons

general contractor
– Daniel O'Connell's Sons
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