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Scene at MIT: Friendly furniture

A new project introducing Adirondack chairs to Eastman Court aims to encourage more social gathering outdoors.
A new project introducing Adirondack chairs to Eastman Court aims to encourage more social gathering outdoors.
Photo: Maisie O'Brien

Sitting in one of the colorful new Adirondack chairs in Eastman Court, one can relax and listen to the birds, chat with a friend, or even glimpse one of the rabbits that have proliferated across MIT’s campus.

The 12 chairs originated from faculty member Regina Bateson who applied to the MindHandHeart Innovation Fund to install outdoor furniture in underutilized spaces on campus. Called “Sunshine Makes Us Happy,” the project was designed to encourage more social gathering outdoors. MindHandHeart worked closely with MIT’s Office of Campus Planning to gain approval for the project and identify the most suitable location and type of furniture.

When the weather cooperates, the chairs are in almost constant use and have received an overwhelmingly positive response from the MIT community. Nora Murphy, an archivist in the MIT Libraries, says: “I work in the Institute Archives and Special Collections, which overlooks Eastman Court. The chairs are heavily used for individual relaxation, meetings, or an outdoor place to work. It’s almost like a sociological study to see how they are grouped and re-grouped each day, and where they have been relocated. They are a wonderful addition, both for those who use them, and for those like myself who are entertained by their use.”

Since installing the chairs, at least two other campus offices have reached out to MindHandHeart with interest in replicating this project in their own outdoor spaces.

The next application cycle for MindHandHeart projects opens in October. For information about suggesting a project, visit the MindHandHeart FAQ.

Submitted by: Maisie O'Brien/MindHandHeart Initiative | Photo by: Maisie O'Brien.

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