Monday, December 15, 2008
Simmons Hall students residences at MIT designed by Steven Holl in 2002 is part of a major building program which included buildings by Frank Gehry and Fumihiko Maki. The building includes 350 dormitories, a 125 seat theatre, gymnasium and cafe.
The design was intended with varying degrees of success to create a large degree of informal interaction between students in both free form communal spaces, the street front cafe and corridors designed as internal streets. The structure was designed to allow for a large degree of flexibility to accomodate five large openings in the building which define main entrances, communal areas and roof terraces.
Each floor is three windows high making the building appear larger than it actually is and results in each room having nine operable windows puncturing a thick facade providing solar protection during summer and allowing the low winter sun to enter the room. The coloured window frames represent the ten houses within the building.
Holl said the building was inspired by a sponge to create a porous building that can absorb a variety of programs. The building whilst interesting lacks the same level of consideration for the residents and homeliness as Alvar Aalto's Baker House at MIT.