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Grinning tots populate new lot

The waterfall made a big splash with youngsters at the grand opening of the newest Technology Children's Center at MIT.
The waterfall made a big splash with youngsters at the grand opening of the newest Technology Children's Center at MIT.
Photo / Donna Coveney

The return of students brings fresh energy to campus every September, but a small lot just off Vassar Street was abuzz with activity a little early this year.

The fresh-faced students on this 5,000-square-foot campus do not carry backpacks or chat with friends on cell phones. Their average height is about three feet and they share a keen interest in tricycles.

These students are not here to study at MIT, but they nevertheless "will define our campus in the future," said Provost Robert A. Brown at the Aug. 24 dedication ceremonies for the "Young Builders Work Site," a playground for the children who attend day care in the new Technology Children's Center at the Stata Center.

The playground was donated and built by Skanska USA, the Boston-based general contracting and construction management company that managed construction of the Stata Center.

The new day care and playground stemmed from a 1998 report that identified the need for more day-care facilities, particularly infant care, on campus. It was designed to be "the best backyard ever," according to Kathy Simons, co-manager of the MIT Center for Work, Family and Personal Life. Simons, along with David Silverman and Susan Skrupa, led the MIT project management team.

"We gave Skanska a cartoon and they made it work for us. We cannot thank them enough for their time, dedication and generosity," said Simons.

Darcy and Kristala Prather, MIT alumni and the parents of 10-week-old Kathryn, were ecstatic about the day-care center and playground and the opportunity to be near their daughter during the work day.

"Coming from industry, we did not have this opportunity to be so close to our daughter every day, plus the flexibility and convenience to be with her at any hour," said Kristala Prather, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering. "This playground is fantastic. We're sure this time next year she'll be rolling down these hills."

Gina Grattarola-Tzizik, executive director of the Technology Children's Centers, welcomed guests to the dedication. In addition to Brown, Ray Stata (S.B. 1957), Paul Hewins of Skanska, and Simons spoke.

"The magic of this space will be here for years and generations to come," said Simons.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 15, 2004 (download PDF).

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