SIMMONS HALL, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (MIT)

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 sq ft
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.


A Taste of Simmons
Written with love by Simmons residents:

Stepping through the front entrance, you admire the distinguished architecture and striking design of Simmons Hall. Based on a video tour and what you can find online, Simmons is already an incredible dorm, with thousands of windows, several terraces, a two-story movie theater, a giant ball pit, and dozens of lounges scattered throughout the building. . . .

Moseying down the hallway, you witness the vibrant life in Simmons. Pokemon drawings, physics equations, and maps from Game of Thrones adorn the curvy chalk-able walls. Laughter emanates from a group playing board games in one lounge and a massive 18.02 pset party fills another. You stop by our Housemaster's apartment to grab one of John's oh-so-delicious smoothies, and follow some enthusiastic freshmen to see their latest projects in our EE lab and workshop. Checking out a movie from front desk for later, you build a new tower out of the blocks in our mailbox lounge, and finally settle down in our dining hall to chat with some friendly Sims about life in the Sponge.

In an hour, everyone gets up to go to the house meeting, and your curiosity beckons you to follow. You grab some dessert, meet some new friends, and end up getting involved in Simmons activities.. . .. Doing cool things has never been easier than at Simmons.
On the MIT campus, all dorms are excellent, but Simmons is particularly open, diverse, and friendly. It's more than a place to live. Remember one thing, if nothing else: know that we call Simmons our home, and we welcome you to join us. We can't wait to see you in the fall!

Follow this link for more about Simmons Hall from the students at MIT.
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'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
'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

AWARDS

  • 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
  • CREDITS

    • architect
      • – 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
    Press Contact

    Original Copy
    t + 1 718 386-8643
    press@stevenholl.com