A 1h30 to 3h trek in Cambridge, half indoor, half outdoor,  to be able to say you went to MIT! You’ll discover contemporary art, charming robots, stunning architecture, and pretty views of Back Bay and the Charles river.

The map gives you an approximation of your general direction, but the real trek use pathways and hallways that you’ll have to find yourself! (see info and photos below the map; campus maps available once you are at MIT, see below)

Highlights: LIST visual center, Stata center, MIT museum, the Dome, the Alchemist, Killian Court, Charles river, Back Bay, Memorial Drive, infinite corridor, chapel, Calder’s Big Sail.

A to B: Your trek starts at the Kendall/MIT T.stop in Cambridge, but as there’s going to be construction here until 2027, the beginning is messier than it was when the trek was first written! Basically, follow the signs to MIT Health Services and when at # 500, go inside and through the building. You’ll emerge on a plaza with MIT List Visual Center in front of you, on your left. It’s your first stop. You’ll find there a “public art & architecture campus map” that will help you navigate the trek, and three galleries with provoking contemporary art exhibits which will give you an idea of the level of thinking at MIT. Take a leaflet at the entrance, it’ll be easier!

If you cannot find the way to go there, follow the signs to List Visual Center from the T.stop (as indicated on the map). The center is on Ames Street, and the photo above show you how it looks from the street.

C: Once you’ve seen the exhibitions, and ponder what art means today, cross Ames street and bear a little on the right to access a large plaza. All the buildings around you have an 1960’s kind of feeling, concrete and glass, very utilitarian, but a little further in front of you, you’ll see the Stata Center, a good example of Deconstructivist architecture. Designed by Frank Gehry, it seems to be the complete opposite of what you just saw, yet it complements it nicely. Fun, colorful, and informal, it hosts the department of Philosophy, the department of Linguistic, and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, between others. Climb the stairs to see it closely, and take unique photos of it with your reflections on the walls, then find a door downstairs to go and visit its 1st floor and see some of the best hacks made by MIT students.

D: Once out of the Stata Center, go back to the plaza and this time, instead of climbing the stairs, keep going straight for about 500 yards until you find a building blocking your way. Enter it on your left and follow the hallway until you cross another hallway. Take it on your right. With a bit of luck, you are now be in the main MIT building -where the Dome is, and at the end of this “infinite corridor”, you’ll end up on the stairs facing Mass Ave (otherwise, you’re lost!). On your way, you’ll have a peek at some laboratories, encounter students that could be part of the next technological revolution, and look at the notices posted for them (parties, seminars, jobs offers, concerts…). In the middle of this hallway, on your left, you’ll find two elevators. Take one to the 5th floor to go and see the baker library under the dome.

E: If you did not find your way in the buildings, stay on Vassar Street (see map), and once on Mass Ave, turn right. You’ll reach the MIT museum after about 600 yards, and it will be on your right. There, you’ll learn everything about robots and computers, but you’ll also see temporary exhibitions related to science, and some art exhibitions related to technology. It’s a small but well worth a visit museum, and you do not need to have an extended knowledge in science to appreciate what’s on display there. FYI: once the construction is done near the Kendall/MIT T.Station, the museum will be there.

If you went through the main MIT building and exited on Mass Ave, turn right too, and walk a few hundred yards more to reach the museum.

 

F: Once done with your visit at the museum, take Mass. Ave again, and retrace your steps. If you did not explore the main building yet, now is your chance, but first have a look at The Alchemist on the other side of the street, a thinking man made of numbers and math functions. A bit further if you keep going straight for about 20 yards, you’ll have a tiny chapel on your left, not to be missed and designed by Eero Saarinen, the architect responsible for the auditorium you ‘ll also see in front of you. Once that seen,  retrace your steps and climb the impressive staircase to enter the main building, take the hallway in front of you, and enjoy the atmosphere! At one point, in front of the lifts, you ‘ll find a way to go out on your right, and to reach the Killian Court where you’ll be able take pictures of the Dome. It’s where some of the graduation ceremonies take place every year in June.  FYI: In the lobby up the stairs on Mass Ave, you’ll find a self-guided walking tour of MIT that has partly inspired this trek.

If you already went inside the building, keep on Mass Ave until the Charles river, turn left and the Killan Court will be on your right.

G: Once you have explored the court, and saw the sculptures there, go to the Charles river promenade. At the “Great Sail” on your left, a Calder sculpture a bit inside the campus, cross the avenue to go and enjoy pretty views of Back Bay and Beacon Hill. You’ll see on your left the famous “Salt and Pepper” bridge -nicknamed after the shape of its four towers, linking Cambridge to Boston, and on your right the Harvard bridge, the only bridge measured in smoots (a unit invented by Smoot, a MIT student that laid 364 times on the bridge to measure it!)

You’ll be in front of the MIT sailing pavilion, the oldest in the nation, and when you reach the Charles River yacht club (H), it will be time to cross Memorial Drive again to go and take Wadsworth Street.

I : At the end of it, you ‘ll see a World fountain and you’ll find benches. You’ll also be a few hundred yards from your ending point, and the T-stop will be across the street from where you emerged a few hours ago.

If you now want to compare the MIT campus and the Harvard campus, take the T. toward Harvard Square, and follow the Cambridge/Harvard University trek

Good to Know: you’ll find restrooms at MIT (buildings, museum, art center) and places to sit everywhere on your trek. Your best bet for food are near the Kendall/MIT T.stop.

T-stop: Kendall/MIT (start and end)

 

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