Modernized Facilities for Ambitious Engineering

In order to keep pace with changes in research and education needs, two landmark buildings in the School of Engineering were tapped for renovation within MIT’s 20-year comprehensive campus planning framework.

Building 66’s renovation modernizes facilities for the Department of Chemical Engineering in the iconic wedge-shaped structure designed in 1970 by I.M. Pei ’40. “We have a vision for how chemical engineering will help create the world of tomorrow, but to achieve that we must have facilities that are equal to our aspirations,” says Klavs Jensen, Warren K. Lewis Professor of Chemical Engineering, who served as department head during much of the renovation. Improvements include 14 modernized laboratories; flexible benches and work modules that allow labs to evolve with changing research; tinted windows for a more stable interior climate throughout the day; elevated safety standards; distinct offices for graduate students; and undergraduate lounge and meeting space.

Work on Building 31, occupied by the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Department of Mechanical Engineering, is underway with a completion date of 2017. Originally built in 1929 as a single-story brick structure to house research on internal combustion engines, Building 31 expanded with an East Wing and West Wing in the 1940s to keep pace with national defense needs and war effort contributions. The renovation will better knit those disparate sections, resolving circulation problems throughout the building and creating a main entry. It will also connect the building to MIT’s network of hallways with the addition of a bridge to Building 37. Enhancements to office, lab, and common spaces, as well as a new test space for autonomous systems and an updated de Laval wind tunnel and air system, are also part of the renovation plans.