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Coffee-seekers slip into caf� scene

"Building 4 Caf�," a mural by Jennifer Cook-Chrysos, was recently installed by the Building 4 coffee shop.
"Building 4 Caf�," a mural by Jennifer Cook-Chrysos, was recently installed by the Building 4 coffee shop.
Photo / Donna Coveney

Some of the thousands of people who hurry along MIT's Infinite Corridor each day are pausing at the intersection with Building 4, and not all of them because they suddenly want to buy a cup of coffee.

Instead of a plain hallway and the two doors to the coffee shop, passersby are now confronted with a colorful mural depicting an open-air caf�--complete with a table and two chairs protruding from the wall.

"I just wanted to give that narrow hallway a more expansive feeling, and make the coffee shop patrons feel more like they are at a real caf�. I think students at MIT are missing the cafe scene European students enjoy, so I wanted to bring a little of that atmosphere to them," said Cook-Chrysos, a freelance artist who owns Painted Frog Studio in Milford. She also works as a graphic support specialist at the Whitehead Institute.

"I wanted to include a wide variety of people to reflect the wide variety of students at MIT ... I wanted to challenge the 'geeky enginerd' stereotype. I wanted the painting to be fun and engaging, and maybe a little surprising," she said.

Aramark, which operates the coffee shop and other dining venues at MIT, commissioned the work. Cook-Chrysos credited Richard Cody, Aramark's operations manager, with the idea to mount parts of tables and chairs on the wall to give viewers the feeling that they're part of the scene.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 12, 2001.

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