New music building to be built next to Kresge by 2022

MTA section head: new building fills “a need that has long been recognized at MIT”

A recent gift from Joyce Linde, widow of Edward Linde ’62, will fund the construction of a new music building adjacent to Kresge Auditorium.

Jon Alvarez, director of the Office of Campus Planning, wrote in an email to The Tech that the new building will include spaces for performance, practice, professional-level recording, research, and instruction, as well as a performance lab. It will incorporate acoustical design elements for optimal listening, playing, and recording.

The architect selection process is underway. Planning and design activities are expected to continue through 2019, with construction projected to begin in early 2020 and conclude in fall 2022.

MIT currently does not have a space dedicated to music performance; the music department shares spaces with other departments. Although Kresge Auditorium hosts many of the music department’s ensemble rehearsals and performances, it was not designed for music performances and does not meet the needs of the music department and its ensembles. “A lot of high schools have better facilities than MIT dedicated just to music,” according to Professor Marcus Thompson in an interview with The Tech.

The Music and Theater Arts website states that 5 to 10 students major in music (Course 21M or 21E/S) each year. It is one of the most popular minors and concentrations, with more than 1,500 students enrolled in music courses each year. Thompson said, “I think that the Institute is finding out that we [Music and Theater Arts] have a lot more influence than they would have thought many years ago, in part because so many students have an interest in music.”

“Especially for me, as a composer, being able to have access to a professional recording studio is really important,” Audrey Pillsbury ’19, a double major in Courses 5 and 21M, said in an interview with The Tech.

The first report that called for improved facilities for music and the performing arts was published in 1976, according to Keeril Makan, section head of Music and Theater Arts, in an email to The Tech. Pillsbury noted that one main complaint is that there aren't enough practice rooms. The new building will fill “a need that has long been recognized at MIT,” Makan wrote.

In addition to the new building, Thompson said that the creation of the College of Computing might lead to a graduate program. “While this building is a boost to performance, the [College of Computing] is going to enable us to go farther in the direction of computational music. It’s going to be a wonderful time.”