The MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences had a virtual groundbreaking on Thursday, June 12 for its component of MIT's new brain and cognitive sciences project.
The building, under construction at the intersection of Main and Vassar streets, will include offices, research facilities and conference space for brain and cognitive sciences (BCS), the McGovern Institute of Brain Research and the Picower Center for Learning and Memory.
"This is a tremendous step forward for the department, the Institute and all of cognitive science and neuroscience," said Mriganka Sur, head of the department and a researcher in the Picower Center.
BCS at MIT has grown since it was founded in Building E10 more than 40 years ago, and the faculty is now scattered across four buildings. The new building, scheduled to be completed in fall 2005, will bring them together again.
"It's difficult to overstate how important this building is to the mission of our department," Sur said. "We are currently in the greatest period of growth in the department's history."
MIT President Charles M. Vest described how a series of events over the past several years has resulted in bringing neuroscience to the forefront for MIT. He emphasized that the BCS's "interactive approach"--which does not separate research of the brain from that of the mind--has been a given from the beginning.
The architectural design for the entire 376,000-square-foot project is a collaborative effort of Boston-based Goody, Clancy & Associates and Charles Correa Associates of Bombay, India. Correa and Roger N. Goldstein, representing Goody, Clancy, spoke at the event.
"How do you design a building with three brains?" Correa asked. Also using brain terminology, Goldstein said that the interior needed the plasticity to accommodate research in a rapidly advancing field for the next 50 to 100 years.
Among the design elements in the facility is an airy central atrium that will aid communication among faculty and students associated with the three entities. The building will hold up to 1,500 people when fully occupied.
The virtual groundbreaking took place in Room 68-181 during a luncheon for participants in a three-day series of neuroscience lectures for donors and others. Sur, Vest, Dean of Science Robert J. Silbey, Correa and Goldstein donned hard hats and cut a yellow construction-zone ribbon draped over a poster of the brain and cognitive sciences section of the building.The Picower Center for Learning and Memory and the McGovern Institute had separate groundbreaking ceremonies last month.