13 February 2004

Looking Back, Looking Forward

In September of 2002 I wrote a letter to the editors of The Tech. My point was that it's important to keep in mind all the good things that continue to happen at MIT while we bemoan the things we think the next generation will have to do without. Amrys and Rodin have both been talking about the disgusting lump of brick and steel that replaced the magical incubator; more specifically, they have been complaining about how the attitude projected by MIT about the new building conflicts so much with the virtues of Bldg 20, which many might say epitomizes the things which make MIT special.

Building 20 holds a dear place in my heart. The moment I decided to come to MIT was when I came to visit as a high school senior and we stopped behind Building 20 on our campus tour to watch some students do time trials of a go-kart. When I arrived on campus as a frosh, it was always the "ugly go-kart building" to me. It was scheduled for demolition during my freshman year and I regret not joining johnston, jrandall and mmunsey on their trips to scavenge cruft and kick in door frames. I won't argue that the Rad-Lab electricals throwing up this POS while soldiers were bunking in East Campus doesn't have an element of romance.

But let's not be too curmudgeonly. I've talked to a couple of people from CSAIL who are psyched to be moving into a brand new building and something tells me that in 5 years time people will have long forgotten the aesthetic rules about what kind of desk you're supposed to have. Hell, my office window looks out on Building 32 and I've watched them construct it over the last couple of years. I agree that every month that went by made the building look less finished and that the final product looks like a bombed out apartment building from the 70's. But I also have faith that in 50 years time Building 32 will have its share of broken electronic equipment and hundreds of Engineers telling stories about their time there.

I'll happily raise my glass to Building 20 and times gone by, but let's also drink to the opening of a new chapter of the corner of Main & Vassar.

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