Long Overdue

When my mother saw MIT’s Stata Center, also known as Building 32, she said, “My God that’s an ugly building.” Are you gonna call my mother a liar?

Now, for some fascinating news. “The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is suing renowned architect Frank Gehry,” says the AP newswire, “alleging serious design flaws in the Stata Center, a building celebrated for its unconventional walls and radical angles.”

Let’s see that again: “The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is suing renowned architect Frank Gehry, alleging serious design flaws in the Stata Center, a building celebrated for its unconventional walls and radical angles.”

No, the suit isn’t over the building’s looks:

Stata Center in September 2005

Instead, “The school asserts that the center, completed in spring 2004, has persistent leaks, drainage problems and mold growing on its brick exterior. It says accumulations of snow and ice have fallen dangerously from window boxes and other areas of its roofs, blocking emergency exits and causing damage.” Also, at one point, it had skunks living in the main air intake (or so I’m told). The amount of damages sought by the suit is as yet unspecified; the building cost $283.5 million in all, $15 million of which went to Gehry’s firm.

Scott Aaronson says that he first thought the headline “MIT Sues Architect Frank Gehry” had to come from The Onion or, more likely, an MIT publication like Voo Doo. Actually, Voo Doo did once have a headline about the Stata Center (I know because I wrote it): “Building 32 morphs into battle droid; saves Cambridge from Mothra, Megalon.”

Later, of course, Doonesbury covered the same territory.

3 thoughts on “Long Overdue”

  1. I just saw that on Slashdot. I have heard a few complaints about that building as far as the interior layout is concerned.

    I have been in there a couple of times and I can see why people don’t like it.

    I am not sure if Stata Center or Simmons Hall is the ugliest building. Since I work on Vassar street I get to see both of them every day.

  2. I can actually see Stata from my window.

    I think it’s a sign of my ever-encroaching madness (no doubt due to my apartment’s proximity to Brookline) that I don’t find it visually offensive at all.

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