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[ Info about renovations, especially the major renovation of the late 1990s ]



Baker House [Renovation] Feasibility Study
November 1996

This is an exhaustive study led by Perry Dean Rogers & Partners about the feasibility of renovating the physical Baker House structure. It is the "blueprint" for the major renovationsthat were done in the late 1990s. The scanned PDFs are huge, so the document is broken up into several sections:
Oct 4 1957


East Campus Remodeling Serves
As A Wear-And-Tear Experiment



The durability of the furniture is being carefully considered since the furniture in Baker House has stood up poorly to the wear and tear of only nine years of use, whereas the plain but sturdy furniture in East Campus and the Graduate House has stood up well for twenty years and most of it will be serviceable for another ten.

FEBRUARY 12, 1974

Baker House conducts remodeling experiments

By Michael Garry

In an effort. to explore methods of improving dormitory living facilities, the fifth floor west section of Baker House was recently renovated under the direction of the House's Client Team.
Improvements in the common areas, halls, and lounges of the section, which houses about: thirty students, were made under the direction of the team to study considerations that would affect a complete renovation of the 25-year-old house, and to improve the environment of the fifth-west section.

According to Hoah Mendelsohn '74, a member of the Client Team, funds for the project were made available last May by the Housing and Dining Service. The project cost was about $25,000; part of the funds came from a special "renovations fund" established from alumni gifts.

The renovation is expected to serve as a "trial balloon" for the complete renovation of Baker, which has had no major structural work since it was built in 1948. James Moody '75, president of Baker, called the renovation "an experiment to see what people like, and what the right cost is, with the ultimate intent of redoing the-entire house." The Client Team plans to survey the reactions and living patterns of the fifth west renovations to see if the same guidelines for renovation would be applicable to the house as a whole.

The Client Team, composed of students, aministrators, Dean for Student Affairs' representatives, and the House's faculty residents, started work almost two years ago on the problem of improving facilities in Baker. Their report, dealing with longand short-term projects for fixing up the House, was released recently; the renovations are based mainly on the considerations set forth on the report.

Good and Associates, a professional architectural firm was hired to design and layout the changes made in the project. The plans were approved in August, and the project completed in January. The Client Team assisted the architects, according to Mendelsohn, "on items of practicality and where our familiarity with the house was useful."
Fifth west, which is one-third of one o f Baker's six floors, was chosen as the site for the project "due to its economic feasibility and aesthetic desirability," according to Moody. The floor is typical of Baker floors, and the west section has a large lounge that permitted experimentation with furnishings. The renovations included new furniture for the area, carpeting in the hallways, improved lighting, wall hangings, and better facilities in the bathrooms. Individual rooms were not renovated.

Kenneth Browning, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, said the next step towards improving Baker is "to translate the report ... into a working program. The experience on the fifth floor will be useful in terms of ideas and functions." Browning added, however, that it would be difficult to predict when or if large-scale resources could be allocated for the complete renovation of the house.

Many of the House's residents feel that a complete renovation is a necessary step to prevent the further deterioration of the dormitory. An article in "Architecture Plus" magazine early last fall stated that the MIT administration had been lax in maintaining the dorm, and charged that modifications were made over the years to increase the housing capacity of the dorm. Browning at that time denied that the maintenance had been neglected.

Baker Renovations May Begin Next Year


By Shang-Lin Chuang


A $22 million renovation to Baker House could begin as early as next summer pending approval by the administration, according to Susan A. Personette, senior architect and project manager for Physical Plant.

According to the current plan, the dormitory will undergo construction during the summers of 1998 and 1999, rendering it uninhabitable during those times.

The first and ground floor common space will undergo major renovation in the first year, and the dormitory rooms will be renovated the following year, said Tracy M. Sadowski '99, who lead a team of Baker residents and coordinated the flow of information between the students, the architects, and the administration.



February 3, 1998


Baker Renovations to Begin in Summer

Heavy renovations to Baker House's rooms and common areas will begin this summer.

by Naveen Sunkavally

The fruits of several years worth of planning will finally be realized as Baker House receives massive renovations during the next two summers. Plans to renovate the dorm were approved in the middle of January in a discussion between President Charles M. Vest, Provost Joel Moses, and Senior Vice President William R. Dickson.  



Baker House dorm getting major renovations

Sarah H. Wright, News Office

June 3, 1998

Baker House, the MIT dormitory designed by world-renowned Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, is undergoing a major restoration and renovation.

The construction will take place over two summers and is expected to cost more than $20 million. A rededication of Baker House is planned for September 1999, the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the building.

Baker House, whose unique wave shape is a landmark along the Charles River, was designed in 1947 and completed in 1949. It is one of the seminal Modern Movement buildings in North America and one of only two permanent Aalto structures in the United States. The 350-bed dormitory is named for Everett Moore Baker, an MIT dean of students who died in an airplane crash in India in 1949.

Senior Vice President William R. Dickson has called Baker House "the most significant piece of architecture on campus."

Alvar Aalto is one of the great masters of 20th century architecture. His early work, which grew out of the Nordic classical tradition, was transformed by his exposure to the Bauhaus and International Modernism in the 1920s. By the 1940s, Mr. Aalto's own style had moved toward a new architecture of humanism, with unique spatial forms rendered in natural materials, designed carefully to accommodate the users of his work.

"From furniture to lighting to rooms along the river, close yet removed from the noise of Memorial Drive, Aalto designed this environment to foster creativity. Today, the community is more diverse -- there are more women and students from all over the world -- and Baker House continues to offer a creative atmosphere where they can realize their dreams," said Robert M. Randolph, senior associate dean of undergraduate education and student affairs.

[ complete article




Baker Renovations Restore Alvar Aalto's Design

By Song-Hee Paik

Contractors have completed the first summer of Baker House's $24-million renovation.

This summer, the common areas in the basement and the first floor were reconstructed. Next summer's focus will be on the upper floors of the building.




Honoring a Finnish master

MIT completes restoration of Baker House dorm, celebrates with 2-day symposium on Alvar Aalto

September 9, 1999

On October 1 and 2, 1999, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will celebrate the completion of its major restoration and renovation of Baker House, the dormitory designed by world-renowned Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, with a two-day symposium, "Interpreting Aalto: Baker House and MIT."

The symposium, organized by Stanford Anderson, head of the department of architecture at MIT, will feature talks and papers by noted architects, historians and critics, tours for visitors of Baker House and of postwar architecture in Boston and Cambridge.

Baker House, whose unique wave shape is a landmark along the Charles River, is one of the seminal modern buildings in North America and one of just two permanent structures by Aalto in the United States.

Designed in 1946-48 and completed in 1949, Baker House embodies both the architect's and the client's vision of social housing. At the time of the commission, MIT announced its intention to build "a physical atmosphere of order, peace, and beauty" to support the activities of "the constructive mind."

The commission for the dormitory was a logical extension of Aalto's role as a teacher at MIT. He was first invited to campus in 1940 to introduce architecture students to the humanistic side of European modernism, represented in part by his own work on housing in Finland and Europe and his use of unique forms and natural materials.

In describing "Interpreting Aalto," Professor Anderson said, "Alvar Aalto is one of the most significant architects of the twentieth century, and MIT's Aalto conference is the largest and most serious inquiry into his work ever in the United States -- and at least competes with such events in Europe."

"The noted Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza, winner of many prizes, including the Pritzker, Aalto and Mies van der Rohe prizes, will deliver the Pietro Belluschi Memorial Lecture, speaking not only of his own work but about his well-known respect for the work of Aalto.

[ complete article ]


October 2, 2001

Focus on the Concrete

This is not the first time that the Institute has overlooked logistics in the zeal to improve the community, and at the expense of the students currently living in these places. Renovations at Baker House ran into similar problems of delays. Two years ago, Baker house residents returning to campus for orientation were given temporary rooms in other dorms. The rush for Baker House operated out of a tent in Kresge Oval because the building was not suitable; entry into the dorm required a hard hat.




from the December 2003 issue of Metropolis Magazine

Aalto’s MIT Masterpiece

While the restoration of Baker House has some purists fuming the classic dorm has never looked better.

By Ted Smalley Bowen
Posted December 1, 2003

Cross the Harvard Bridge from Boston’s Back Bay to the MIT campus in Cambridge, and you might miss Baker House. It cuts a relatively low profile: six horizontally sweeping stories of red brick tucked in to the left. But as you near Memorial Drive, Alvar Aalto’s masterpiece throws you a captivating curve, its sinuous southern facade echoing the Charles River. The main approach, from the school’s massive Neoclassical hub, cuts between MIT’s other Finnish classics—Eero Saarinen’s Kresge Auditorium and Chapel—and through the dorm’s split-level lobby and lounge. This Aalto axis continues into the “moon garden,” a two-story dining pavilion with a maple-slatted ceiling pierced by cylindrical skylights. 



The room dividers in the front doubles are gone, too...

The room dividers in the front doubles are gone, too...
I wonder what the rationale for making them go away was.  Did they also go away during the major renovations ten years ago?  And what would Alvar have said?

The '47 rooms are gone...

Hmm.  It looks like the '47 rooms went away in the major renovations ten years ago...

Random Pictures

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