With Color and Light

Cambridge, MA, United States, 1999-2002

PROGRAM: 350 bed dormitory including a dining hall, auditorium, and other shared facilities
CLIENT: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
SIZE: 195,000 sf

“The undergraduate residence is envisioned with the concept of ‘porosity.’ It is a vertical slice of city, 10 stories tall and 382′ long, providing a 125 seat theater, a night café, and street level dining. The ‘sponge’ concept transforms the building via a series of programmatic and bio-technical functions. The building has five large openings corresponding to main entrances, view corridors, and outdoor activity terraces. Large, dynamic openings are the lungs, bringing natural light down and moving air up. Each of the dormitory’s single rooms has nine operable windows. An 18″ wall depth shades out the summer sun while allowing the low angled winter sun to help heat the building. At night, light from these windows is rhythmic and magical.”

-Stephen Holl Architects

Simmons Hall at night

Diagram showing their concept of porosity, resulting in light and air ventilation.

18″ wall depth with added color

Shaped column of light

Beautiful, vertical space


Progressive Architecture Awards, USA, 2000
Charles Harleston Parker Medal, ARchitecture Boston Annual Design Awards, USA, 2003
ACEC Engineering Excellence Honor Award, USA, 2004
National AIA Design Award, USA, 2003
Best of Boston New Building Award, USA, 2003
Association of General Contractors Build Massachusetts Award, USA, 2003
NY AIA Design Award, USA, 2002


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