Mathematics Logo

Building 2 Project Description

Spring 2015

Aerial Photograph

Building 2 from Memorial Drive. All renderings courtesy of Ann Beha Architects.

Building 2, home of the Department of Mathematics, is in the midst of its first comprehensive renovation since the building’s original construction. The historic Beaux-Arts building, which faces the Charles River and forms the southeast perimeter of Killian Court, is part of the iconic Main Group complex designed by architect William Bosworth. The Main Group, MIT’s initial Cambridge campus, will celebrate its 100-year anniversary in 2016.

The extensive renovation will update Building 2 in its entirety to better accommodate the evolving academic and research needs of the Department as we proceed into the 21st century. This includes a detailed restoration of the historic limestone façade, the replication and replacement of the building's 100 year-old windows, a complete overhaul of infrastructure and mechanical systems, a strategic re-design of the interior floor plans, and for the first time within the Main Group, the addition of a new floor. To lead the Department through this complex endeavor, Ann Beha Architects was chosen as the project's design firm.

Exterior View, Lowell Court

Building 2 from Lowell Court.

Regarded for her exquisite work in historic preservation and mastery at operating within historic contexts, Ann Beha quickly emerged as the ideal architect for the Building 2 renovation. Her award-winning studio brings thirty years of experience working with institutions of higher learning and the arts.

"Ann Beha Architects seeks a dynamic discourse between heritage and the future. Based in Boston, our work includes planning, design and historic preservation for clients throughout the United States and abroad. Our work is equally dedicated to contemporary architectural expression and the revitalization of historic resources. Our projects shape and strengthen community life, establishing new directions, identities, and vibrant settings for education, the arts, and the civic realm."
— from the ABA website.

Design & Construction

Developed in close partnership with the Department of Mathematics and MIT’s Facilities Department, ABA’s design is strongly aligned with the priorities and themes of the MIT 2030 framework. The fourth floor addition—the distinguishing feature of the project—will add approximately 14,000 square feet of office, seminar, and collaborative space to the Department. Not to be overlooked, however, is the careful redistribution of space on the existing floors. A new cluster design concept will encourage collaboration and interdisciplinary cooperation by embedding meeting rooms between offices and corridors. Overall, the amount of shared and collaborative space will increase by over 300 percent.


The expanded Math Commons.

"The renovation will create spaces that encourage people to leave their offices, talk to one another, and work together, with blackboards and coffee strategically placed to stimulate conversation. Mathematicians share a tradition of meeting in pairs or small groups, gravitating to inviting spaces like the famous Scottish Café in Lwów, Poland [now Lviv in the Ukraine], during the 1930's and 1940's."
— Mike Sipser, Dean, MIT School of Science

In addition to the 4th floor expansion and floor plan alterations, the Department's teaching and research spaces will be refurbished. All eleven first-floor classrooms, including 2-190, the building's flagship lecture hall, will be modernized and equipped with state-of-the-art audiovisual systems. The Fluid Dynamics Lab, the Department's applied math research laboratory, will expand its basement location and be revamped as well.

Construction on Building 2 began in the summer of 2013 and continues as planned. Exterior restoration of the facade was completed in the fall of 2014 and is undergoing detailed inspection. Fabrication and installation of the windows is also ongoing and near completion. The most exciting visual cue of progress, however, is the erection of the fourth floor steel structure, which began early this Fall. As of date, delivery of the project remains as scheduled with completion in late 2015. The Department’s move back to Building 2 is planned for January of 2016.