Baker Dormitory
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Architect Alvar Aalto
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Location Cambridge, Massachusetts   map
Date 1947 to 1948   timeline
Building Type college dormitory
 Construction System brick
Climate temperate
Context urban campus
Style Modern
Notes At MIT. S-curved plan optimizes views along Charles River.


Photo, exterior.

Photo, exterior.

Photo, exterior.


Plan Drawing

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3D Massing Model (DesignWorkshop 3dmf)

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Discussion Baker Dormitory Commentary

"The site is located on a heavily-trafficked street along the Charles River. In order to avoid as much as possible the disturbing view out onto this street, a curving plan form was chosen. By this means, no room was oriented at right angles to the street and its traffic. It is well known how much more tranquil it is to look, for example, from a diagonal line of sight out of the windows of a moving train at the passing landscape. An attempt to make use of this phenomenon was made with the form of the building: the windows face diagonally to the passing automobiles and thus afford a quieter environment for the person within the room. The stairway system is housed in a paneled structure rising up the north side of the building which allows an unobstructed view along its entire length from the lowest landing."

— Karl Fleig, ed. Alvar Aalto. Scarsdale, N.Y.: Wittenborn and Company, 1963. p134.

Sources on Baker Dormitory

"A Modern More or Less Humane", by Joseph E. Pollack, ArchitectureWeek No. 273, 2006.0201, Baker Dormitory compared with Simmons Hall, pC1.2.

Roger H. Clark and Michael Pause. Precedents in Architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1985. linear circulation diagram, p197.   Updated edition available at

Peter Gossel and Gabriele Leuthauser. Architecture in the Twentieth Century. Germany: Benedikt Taschen Verlag, 1991. ISBN 3-8228-0550-5. plan, p240.

Spiro Kostof. A History of Architecture. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985. ISBN 0-19-503472-4. LC 84-25375. NA200.K65 1985.   Available at

Steen Eiler Rasmussen. Experiencing Architecture.

William S. Saunders. Modern Architecture—Photographs by Ezra Stoller. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1990. ISBN 0-8109-3816-2. exterior photo, river side, p44. — A wonderful & inspiring book of beautiful photographs by a true master of architectural photography. Available at

Dennis Sharp. Twentieth Century Architecture: a Visual History. New York: Facts on File, 1990. ISBN 0-8160-2438-3. NA680.S517. eye level photo. p169. — Available at

Marcus Whiffen and Frederick Koeper. American Architecture. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1984. exterior photo, from river side, f278, p345.   An excellent survey of American architecture. Reprint Edition Available at

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at  Find books about Baker Dormitory


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