Massachusetts Institute of Technology | MIT.nano

Architect: HGA

Owner: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Project site: Brownfield

Building program type(s): Education - College/University (campus-level), Laboratory

MIT.nano is one of the largest commitments to research in MIT’s history. The research within aims to address some of humanity’s greatest challenges, from sustainable energy to clean water to finding a cure for cancer. Located steps from the iconic Infinite Corridor and the Great Dome, it is home to a cluster of world-class laboratories, including class 100 and 1,000 cleanrooms, imaging suites, MIT.nano-makerspace, and chemistry teaching laboratories.

The team set a high bar: to achieve best-in-class performance in three major green building categories.

  1. Design to maximize safety and occupant well-being while enhancing opportunities for innovation and interaction within the campus community.
  2. Provide for a high degree of flexibility and resilience, including additional load capacity, to help ensure a long, useful life for the building.
  3. Advance state-of-the-art practices for energy-efficient, high-performance cleanroom design and achieve unprecedented overall sustainability for a building of this type.

Achieving LEED Platinum certification required an integrated sustainability approach that included community engagement, focus on water conservation and stormwater management, resiliency in anticipating flooding and program changes, and wellness and safety of all users, especially within the hazardous environment of a cleanroom. Due to the intensive energy use inherent in a cleanroom with up to 260 air changes/hour, a massive focus was placed on energy use reduction.

By reusing an existing brownfield building site, MIT.nano revitalized a major precinct at the heart of the campus, transforming what was a service yard into an accessible and inspiring landscape that includes public art.

By investing in a shared core facility, MIT eliminated duplication of expensive tools and processes across the campus while maximizing collaboration and engagement across disciplines.

MIT.nano’s design is highly transparent, inviting the community to observe the research within while placing the efficient systems that serve it poetically on display.

Additional information

Project attributes

Year of design completion: 2014

Year of substantial project completion: 2018

Gross conditioned floor area: 216,000 sq ft

Number of stories: 7

Project climate zone: ASHRAE 5A

Annual hours of operation: 8,760

Site area: 101,110 sq ft

Project site context/setting: urban

Cost of construction, excluding furnishing: $291,000,000

Number of residents, occupants, visitors: 2,000

Project team

Architect: HGA

Consultant - Audio-Visual: Cavanaugh Tocci Associates

Consultant - Sustainability: BR+A Consulting Engineers, Inc.  

Consultant –Cleanroom Planning/Tools: AGI Abbie Gregg Inc.  

Consultant - Cleanroom: Cleanroom Construction Associates

Consultant Code: Jensen Hughes  

Consultant - Cost: Fennessy Consulting Services  

Consultant - Interiors: MoharDesign  

Consultant - Lighting: Ripman Lighting Consultants

Consultant Vibration/Acoustic: Acentech, Inc.

Engineer - Civil: Kleinfelder

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

Engineer - Geotechnical/Foundations: Haley & Aldrich  Consultant –

Engineer - Process Benches: Research Facilities Design (RFD)

Engineer - Process Engineering/TGMS: Hallam-ICS  

Engineer - Structural: LeMessurier Consultants, Inc.  

Lab Casework Manufacturer: New England Laboratory Casework Co., Inc.

Lab Fume Hoods Manufacturer: New England Laboratory Casework Co., Inc. (Mott)

Landscape Architect: Pressley Associates  

Consultant - EMI: Vitatech

Consultant - Curtainwall: Curtainwall Design Consulting

Consultant - Exterior Envelope: Anis Building Enclosure Consultants

Manager/General Contractor: Turner Construction Company


Erica Cochran Hameen, Assoc. AIA, Carnegie Mellon University

Lynn Simon, FAIA, Google

Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, Marlon Blackwell Architects

Michelle Amt, AIA, VMDO Architects

Renee Cheng, FAIA, University of Washington

Image credits

MIT.nano forms a new campus courtyard named ‘Improbability Walk’ along the Main Group buildings and anchored by the Great Dome. Named in honor of one of MIT’s most inspirational faculty members: the late Institute Professor Mildred “Millie” Dresselhaus.

Anton Grassl

An interior hallway that is well lit, with chairs and whiteboards that students are using to work.

Anton Grassl

An entrance to the building from the interior. It is a tall and well-lit, white space. There are stairs that lead into the building.

Anton Grassl

A whide open clean lab space. A professor is working on a table with a computer and there are three students in lab coats around him. The space is well lit by windows.

Anton Grassl

Improbability Walk; an outdoors campus space paved with pervious materials and planted to retain, treat, and infiltrate stormwater.

Anton Grassl