The Media Laboratory at M.I.T. was the world's premier center for the study of interaction between computers when it opened in 1994.

Like a school of the arts, it is a place of invention and exploration. Originally designed by I. M. Pei, the handsome building housed three groups focusing on communication, entertainment, and education. It was the hope of director Nicholas Negroponte to foster interaction among them all and thereby stimulate new approaches to the many diverse and exciting projects underway. With its success, came need for expansion.

Centerbrook was engaged to fill in the unused top 15 feet of a 60 foot high core black box theater as a new third floor computer "garden" filled with ad hoc arrangements of computers and work surfaces, and ringed with glass fronted faculty offices. Below this, the theater was given a new walk-on wire mesh ceiling to ease the placement of lighting and speakers for productions.

While the renovations were very much in the spirit of the original building, new bits of design were added to cheer on the happy chaos. Surrounding the garden, office dividers with bright bands of painted metal strips suggest mysterious coding. A stainless steel trough just below the ceiling nurtures ivy, bringing nature into the center of the high-tech building.

The director's office suite on the second floor was renovated as well with custom hung mesh ceilings and furniture. On the ground floor, Centerbrook designed a ceiling mural of neon to lighten and enliven a new social center lobby.

Photography © Steve Rosenthal