Architect: Wilson HGA

Owner: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Award of Merit

MIT.nano is one of the largest commitments to research in MIT's history. Just steps from the Infinite Corridor and the Great Dome, at the heart of the MIT campus, MIT.nano supports the activities of 2,000 researchers. The 216,000 GSF facility allows faculty and students to manipulate materials at the atomic scale and create innovative devices. It streamlines delicate experimentation and prototyping by bringing together complex research and learning activities that are currently distributed around campus. A world-class facility, it modernizes MIT’s capacity and deepens the collaboration between disciplines, nurturing game-changing ingenuity and advancing the frontiers of innovation without boundaries.  

"Showcase for future, forward thinking technology." ~ Jury comment

Research and teaching MIT.nano houses a cluster of world-class laboratories, including class 100 and 1,000 cleanrooms, imaging suites, nano-maker space, and chemistry teaching laboratories. The research space enables and enhances the work of dozens of academic groups from various disciplines. The core imaging facility contains some of the most precise microscopes that require very low vibration, acoustic and electromagnetic interference. The chemistry teaching cluster is a unique program for undergraduates, developed to provide a strong educational foundation in experimental chemistry to all students.  


MIT.nano strategically integrates into the renowned Infinite Corridor, a central spine that physically and symbolically connects the campus’s main buildings, departments, classrooms, and labs as a center of international research. A courtyard path on the south side of the building, ‘Improbability Walk’, honors the late MIT Professor Emerita Mildred “Millie” Dresselhaus, a pioneer in solid-state physics and nanoscale engineering, who once said, “My background is so improbable—that I’d be here from where I started.” A variety of seasonal plantings, seating, and garden lighting provide a tranquil setting as students, researchers and visitors walk between the new, glassy, transparent building and the brick-and-stone Main Group buildings. Improbability Walk serves as an alternate route that parallels the Infinite Corridor experience.  


Filling a former service yard between the historic buildings, MIT.nano is organized as a stone box housing the labs at the core, wrapped with a glass shroud. MIT.nano visually responds to the campus’s iconic Great Dome in massing, scale, and material. The stone box articulation picks on the historic building’s stone façade while its shimmering glass ‘veil’ creates a continuous visual dialogue between the old and the new.  

Visual Connections

MIT.nano is more accessible than any comparable clean-room facility in the world. The building invites students and visitors to observe the research directly, through large windows into the cleanroom and the mechanical systems that serve it. Those walking along the Improbability Walk have clear views into the machine, where the art and science of the research is revealed. Sunlight-soaked interior corridors also offer views into labs and outside to the larger campus. Meanwhile, researchers can more easily interact with each other and see the sunshine and plantings outside. The layered articulation of glass and stone draw inspiration from the etching and deposition processes used to create nanoscale semiconductors. Subtle play between the etched and fritted surfaces of glass both hide and reveal what is behind.

Additional information

Cleanroom Planning/Tools: AGI Abbie Gregg Inc.

Code Consulting: Jensen Hughes, Inc.  

General Contractor: Turner Construction Company

Engineer - Civil: Kleinfelder  

Engineer - Geotechnical: Haley & Aldrich Vibration/Acoustics: Acentech, Inc.  

Engineer - MEP/FP/Sustainability: BR+A Consulting Engineers, Inc.

Engineer - Process/TGMS: Hallam-ICS Engineering

Engineer - Structural: LeMessurier Consultants, Inc.  

Interiors: MoharDesign

Landscape Architect: Pressley Associates

Landscape Architect (North Corridor): Reed Hilderbrand


Michael A. Nieminen, FAIA, (2019 Chair), Kliment Halsband Architects, New York, NY

Meryati Johari Blackwell, AIA, Marlon Blackwell Architects, Fayetteville, Arkansas

Jason Forney AIA, Bruner/Cott Architects, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Kim Tanzer, FAIA, Gainesville, Florida

JoAnn Hindmarsh Wilcox, AIA, Mahlum Architects, Seattle, WA

Image credits

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Anton Grassl

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Anton Grassl

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Anton Grassl

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Anton Grassl

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Anton Grassl