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The Startup of Simmons
Some dorms have books written about them after students have called them home for decades. Simmons, architectural oddity that it is, has had newspaper stories, exhibits, and now Technology Review (“Sponge Life,” January/February 2007) examine it. I was pleased that Susan Nasr’s article showcased the people of Simmons rather than the building, which is only a complement to the stories of people, learning, and play that go on within its 921 concrete panels.

As a sophomore when the dorm opened, I got to be a part of the first of many rounds of residents to make Simmons Hall closer to what we wanted it to be. Being involved in the “startup” of a dorm–with opportunities to go on shopping sprees for board games and communal kitchen supplies as well as to help form the practices that continue to structure its operations–was great fun.

I know that each year’s community will make the dorm closer to what students want it to be. I also know I can use Simmons as a conversation starter with any architect, Bostonian, or construction manager for years to come, seeing as how, against all odds, none of the rooms jutting out over air has collapsed after four and a half years.
Katherine Leskin ‘05
Arlington, VA

Remembering Bill Dickson ‘56
I was so sad to read in the last issue (Class Notes, January/February 2007) that Bill Dickson is no longer with us. He was a lovely man in every regard, as your obituary clearly shows. But I would like to add that he was also a great help to both faculty and students at MIT. Between 1983 and 1990, while I was teaching building economics in the architecture department, Bill opened the Institute’s books for our research. This he did without any fuss. We could get anything we wished from him–and he made sure everyone working for him would help us, too. Given that building costs and prices are not easily obtained in the corporate world, this was of great value to us; some of my students’ master’s theses would have been impos­sible without him. I hope Bill’s tradition is still alive and well at MIT’s Physical Plant Department.

Learning about his death also touched something else in me. His humanity and decency came through as soon as I saw his picture in Class Notes. His eyes did the trick; we connected through the tiny picture. I feel that I have been remiss in not telling him all this while he was still among us. Alas! Now I have my work cut out for me: I must make sure that the few people as humane and decent as Bill are remembered while they can still enjoy my effusive accolades.
Ranko Bon, PhD ‘75
Motovun, Istria, Croatia

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