MIT is a disorienting place, particularly Stata Center, the home of EECS. There are no straight lines in the building and nothing appears plumb. Architect Frank Gehry, it seems, wanted his design to disturb and overwhelm and there he has succeeded, particularly when it rains: The building leaks. But does the building also stimulate? Again, Gehry has succeeded: The building hums with energy.
On a sunny day in July, the place is crawling with people. Students of various ages, genders, and nationalities wander by chatting in their t-shirts and flip flops, professors share bag lunches with their children in shady corners of the labyrinthine lobby, the line at the deli counter queues around in a disorderly sort of meander, while people in suits mingle with the flip-flop crowd in and under staircases that wander up and off into brick-lined oblivion.
Stata is part intellectual Grand Central Station and part Winchester Mystery House, enticing tourists and visiting scholars alike to wander in off the ponderous corporate streets of Cambridge.
EECS Professor Srini Devadas has an office on the 8th floor of Stata. When we sat down to chat there on Monday, July 9th, he started with an enthusiastic endorsement of MIT’s most famous building.