The $300 million Stata Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology doesn’t look much like a research lab. Its brightly colored collision of angular and cylindrical forms seems to line-dance down dour Vassar Street in Cambridge. The skeptics gleefully piled on. John Silber, the former president of Boston University, called it a disaster. He had put Stata on the cover of his book “Architecture of the Absurd: How‘Genius’ Disfigured a Practical Art.”
After the building opened in 2004, it developed several problems, including leaks, cracking bricks, mold and globs of snow crashing on the sidewalk. MIT sued Stata’s architect, Frank O. Gehry, and Beacon Skanska, its builder, in 2007 without naming a figure for damages.
The terrace of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Stata Center. The terrace was rebuilt after a lawsuit against architect Frank O. Gehry and contractor Beacon Skanska claimed it was not properly designed or constructed. Photographer: James S. Russell/Bloomberg
Is Stata frivolous?
We should applaud buildings that take reasonable risks and encourage architects and clients to embrace innovation.