MIT Ray and Maria Stata Center

From Architect Wiki

The Ray and Maria Stata Center or Building 32 is a 720,000-square-foot (67,000 m2) academic complex designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The building opened for initial occupancy on March 16, 2004. It sits on the site of MIT's former Building 20, which had housed the historic Radiation Laboratory, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In contrast to the MIT custom of referring to buildings by their numbers rather than their official names, the complex is usually referred to as "Stata" or "the Stata Center". Above the fourth floor, the building splits into two distinct structures: the Gates Tower and the Dreyfoos Tower, often called "G Tower" and "D Tower" respectively.

Boston Globe architecture columnist Robert Campbell wrote a glowing appraisal of the building on April 25, 2004. According to Campbell, "the Stata is always going to look unfinished. It also looks as if it's about to collapse. Columns tilt at scary angles. Walls teeter, swerve, and collide in random curves and angles. Materials change wherever you look: brick, mirror-surface steel, brushed aluminum, brightly colored paint, corrugated metal. Everything looks improvised, as if thrown up at the last moment. That's the point. The Stata's appearance is a metaphor for the freedom, daring, and creativity of the research that's supposed to occur inside it." Campbell stated that the cost overruns and delays in completion of the Stata Center are of no more importance than similar problems associated with the building of St. Paul's Cathedral. The 2005 Kaplan/Newsweek guide How to Get into College, which lists twenty-five universities its editors consider notable in some respect, recognizes MIT as having the "hottest architecture", placing most of its emphasis on the Stata Center.

Though there are many who praise this building, and in fact from the perspective of Gehry's other work it is considered by some as one of his best, there are certainly many who are less enamored of the structure. Mathematician and architectural theorist Nikos Salingaros has harshly criticized the Stata Center:

An architecture that reverses structural algorithms so as to create disorder—the same algorithms that in an infinitely more detailed application generate living form—ceases to be architecture. Deconstructivist buildings are the most visible symbols of actual deconstruction. The randomness they embody is the antithesis of nature's organized complexity. This is despite effusive praise in the press for "exciting" new academic buildings, such as the Peter B. Lewis Management Building at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, the Vontz Center for Molecular Studies at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, and the Stata Center for Computer, Information, and Intelligence Sciences at MIT, all by Frank Gehry. Housing a scientific department at a university inside the symbol of its nemesis must be the ultimate irony.

Former Boston University president John Silber said the building "really is a disaster". Architecture critic Robert Campbell praised Gehry for "break[ing] up the monotony of a street of concrete buildings" and being "a building like no other building". The style of the building has been likened to German Expressionism of the 1920s.


Stata Center
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