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Stata Center
Bar Harbor
Last night I went to an event at MIT's Stata Center. It's the first time I've ever actually been *inside* it. From seeing the outside, I was pretty sure that it embodied all that I find objectionable about modern architecture. Which it does. But it goes so far beyond that. This is the first time I've been in a building that actually felt *evil*.

Kes (who had been in it during her student time at MIT) had told me that it was made of Lovecraftian Non-Euclidean Geometry, and probably had an Elder God in the basement. I thought she was exaggerating, but no, it totally has that vibe. It's not *just* confusing, wasteful, and ugly. The acoustics are unsettling. The walls induce vertigo, and look (to one's hindbrain) as if they are about to fall on one. The most often repeated 'decorative' element is origami swans, thus invoking souls devoured in nuclear holocaust. It's a giant Fear Machine. The notion that there is Something Nasty in the cellar feeding on those negative emotions seems completely reasonable when one is inside.

(And I didn't even leave the first floor...)

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Toontown (as I call it) is hideous on multiple levels. I like Kestrell's description. I can certainly believe in an elder god in the basement.

When the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles was new, I took my mother to a concert there. Gehry had insisted on backless "Exit" signs which were then reflected in the plate glass windows. Had my mother not hauled me back by the collar, I would have walked out a fourth story window onto a sharp cement sculpture below. Gehry is a minion of some nether dimension.

I had friends who worked there as grad students, and they liked it, due to something about being able to see from the second floor what was going on in the work groups based on the first floor. My one experience of visiting a friend was confusion about how to get out. The stairs aren't clearly labeled, and they let out on different levels outdoors. To be fair, stair location problems are also often present in standardly designed buildings, as well.

I've been told by someone who worked there that the office that was designed to replace their 10x20 office in the old building was 10x10 -- but with a 20' ceiling (and no closet space). Gehry's response to complaints was that he expected them to "build a loft".

Sounds like the perfect site for the next NecronomiCon. By coincidence, I suggested to a member of the Boskone committee that they ought to move back to their roots and hold it at MIT--I didn't know about the Stata Center and its Resident Evil.

Shades of The Lurking Horror.

First went into it a couple of months ago, for a tech Meetup. I didn't quite get the vibe of "evil" per se, but it *is* designed to induce maximum confusion, for certain. Took me a good 20 minutes to find the room I was looking for, by which point there was a roving band of us looking at every room sign in desperation...

I had been looking for the room my meetup was in for about 40 minutes before someone flagged me down -- but it turned out *he* was in the wrong room. The correct room *did* have a big sign outside with its number -- but somehow the sightlines of the "hallway" were such that I managed to walk by both door and sign at least three times without seeing either of them.

" But many innovative buildings have practical shortcomings and this one’s are unlike any other. There is a room that cannot be used because there’s something about its shape that makes people seasick – I didn’t believe it until I stepped in. - See more at: "

and "10 Major Architectural Failures"

I have not been in that specific room, but having been just on the first floor hallway, I can totally believe it.

I got seasick just looking at photos of the exterior

The first comment is in the context of a favorable review, praising this "playful" building. People should be playful, but not buildings, imho.

I seem to recall that in San Francisco, occasionally the buildings get up and dance, and this is widely regarded as undesirable.

Well, some play is ok, but not with essential parts, like, say, floors and perpendicularity and stuff.

The Stata Center scorns perpendicularity.

"The job of architects is to win architectural awards, *not* make livable buildings." -- An architect friend of mine

Why anyone *pays* them for those designs is beyond me.

I will note that this trend is not new at MIT, and my grandfather is partly culpable.

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