The Completed Simons Building

January 2016

Simons Building at night

Completed in time for the 100th anniversary of the construction of Building 2, this was dedicated as the Simons Building of in honor of James H. '58 and Marilyn Simons, whose generosity enabled MIT to restore and renovate the building. Home of the Department of Mathematics, the Simons Building is part of the "Main Group," a complex of connected buildings that comprised the MIT campus when it first moved to Cambridge from Boston in 1916. The renovation restored the antiquated infrastructure and created shared spaces for collaborative opportunities. Among the highlights includes an award-winning new fourth floor that, despite a modern design, manages to blend in well with the Beaux-Arts building design.

The Building

Scope: 97,000 gsf

Design Features

  • Built in 1916 as designed by William Welles Bosworth, as part of Main Group Beaux-Arts building complex
  • Limestone façade restored and preserved
  • New fourth floor adds 14,000 square feet of office, seminar, and collaborative space; careful expansion process provides model for future renewal of other Main Group buildings
  • Shared space was one common space, a math library, and undergraduate lounge; post-renovation, the department gained an expanded common space, new undergrad lounge, 3 math seminar rooms and 16 meeting rooms
  • Accessibility upgrades include the addition of an elevator and new sloped walks at exterior entrances

Sustainable Design Elements

  • The Simons Building renovation has been awarded LEED Gold certification.
  • Window replacement improves energy performance and comfort of the occupants; windows replicated to maintain historical integrity of building design
  • Projected energy savings annually: Electrical kWh savings 206,000 kWh and heating/cooling savings 9,900 therms

The Project Team

  • Architect: Ann Beha MArch ’75, Ann Beha Architects
  • Exterior Architect: Wessling Architects with Speweik Preservation Consultants
  • Construction manager: Bond Brothers
  • MIT team: Arne Abramson, William Colehower, Martin Deluga, Frank Higson, Sonia Richards, and Gary Tondorf-Dick


  • 2016 Cambridge Historical Commission preservation award for rooftop addition and creative adaptation of interior spaces
  • Society for College and University Planning/AIA-CAE Award for “excellence in architecture for building additions or adaptive reuse.
Simons Building dedication donors and mathematics department members

Celebrating the Simons Building Dedication

Gormley statue with onlookers

At the dedication, Antony Gormley’s 3D winding polyhedra steel structure Chord (2015) was unveiled. In mathematics, the term ‘chord’ describes a straight line joining the ends of an arc; fittingly, this sculpture connects the ground floor to the 4th floor skylight in the Simons Building’s busy intersection of the departments of mathematics, physics, chemistry, and the humanities.