Essential Architecture- New England

Baker House


Alvar Aalto


MIT, Cambridge, MA,


1948 (H:1947-48)


International Style Mid-century modern  


steel frame with brick cladding


Apartment Building
  a: river side, photo M. A. Sullivan.
  b: close view, river side, with cafeteria, photo M. A. Sullivan.
  c: oblique view of entry side, photo M. A. Sullivan.
  d: entrance, photo M. A. Sullivan.
  f: river side, photo, M. Brack.
  g: cafeteria, photo, M. Brack.
  h: land side, photo 1971, J. Nicholais (Drexel U.).
  i: detail, land side, photo 1971, J. Nicholais (Drexel U.).
Baker House, located at 362 Memorial Drive, is a co-ed dormitory at MIT designed by the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto in 1947-1948 and built in 1949. It has an undulating shape which allows most rooms a view of the Charles River, and gives many of the rooms a wedge layout. Aalto also designed furniture for the rooms.

Baker House has historically been known on campus as the most social dorm on campus. Many of MIT's more outgoing students call Baker House home, and parties occur frequently in the dorm. The higher up one goes in the six-story building, it is said, the louder and more active the community is.

The purity test originated at Baker House.[citation needed] A common annual activity in the 1970s was the piano drop.

MIT campus "hackers," when giving entering students unusual tours of the campus (often by means of less accessible paths), often instruct their "tourists"--if caught--to tell campus security that they were "just on their way to Baker House."

As of 2006, Baker is one of the four undergraduate dorms that have dining halls; dining is open to all MIT students every weeknight evening.

Baker House alumni include Alan Guth (Physics, 1968), astrophysicist and professor of physics at MIT; Kenneth Olsen (Electrical Engineering, 1950), inventor of magnetic core memory and co-founder of Digital Equipment Corporation; Amar Bose (Electrical Engineering, 1951), founder of the Bose Corporation and inventor of numerous audio technologies; Gerry Sussman (Mathematics, 1968); Charles Korsmo (Physics, 2000), actor in movies such as Hook and Can't Hardly Wait; Ed Miller, noted poker authority.


Society of Architectural Historians

Special thanks to the Society of Architectural Historians
for some of the images on this page (copyright SAH).