Because of Chuck Vest’s leadership, MIT has absolutely first-rate architecture,” says Prof. Bill Mitchell. “The opportunity to build a campus comes along once in a generation, so it’s really important to do it right.”
MIT is now involved in one of the most ambitious building programs in its history. More than a dozen building projects and renovations are under way, and the $1 billion program will revitalize many existing facilities and will add nearly one million square feet to the 154-acre campus.
MIT hired world-famous architects to make its new buildings as innovative and bold as the work that will go on inside them. “It took a tremendous amount of courage for Chuck Vest to support such an ambitious rebuilding of the campus,” says Mitchell, architectural advisor to Vest. “It would have been much easier to build mediocre buildings, because it’s cheaper, less trouble, and less controversial. But he understood that architecture is not just providing space but that it shapes the community and shapes the future.”
The new architecture, Mitchell says, already is changing the quality and character of MIT. The new buildings include community spaces for people to socialize and collaborate, and the increased interaction will add to the institute intellectually by bringing individuals together to work across disciplines.
Vest’s leadership will influence not only MIT, Mitchell says, but will influence institutions across the world. “We undertook a major building program with high social and intellectual goals and did it successfully. It’s a model to other institutions that you can accomplish extraordinary things, and you can do it successfully.
“Chuck Vest did an amazing thing. He understood that architecture is an expression of values and aspirations. The campus now reflects the character of MIT — intellectual adventure and intellectual courage, a vision that looks ahead and really makes a difference.”