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Foxe notes that Baker is not divided by hallways or suite entrances like other dorms; the rooms on each floor are situated along one undulating hallway. The V-shaped double staircase at the back of the building leads to all six residential floors, so students in transit are constantly running into one another, even if they eschew the elevator. Also, Foxe says, unlike Simmons Hall or East Campus, Baker has a space that can accommodate the entire dormitory population: the dining commons. The room is versatile enough for dormwide social events, like dances, recitals, and even, Foxe recalls fondly, a tropical-­rainforest party complete with a student­-designed waterfall that cascaded from the balcony to the lower level.

“Aalto often said you should judge buildings for what they are like decades after they are built,” says Foxe. By that measure, the architect would probably be pleased at the sense of community his building has engendered. In 1958, when asked about his architectural philosophy, Aalto wrote, “True architecture, the real thing, is only where man stands in [the] centre.” On drop date at Baker House, it’s also safer at the center. You never know when a piano might sail off the roof.

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Credit: Courtesy of the MIT Museum

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