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Cambridge, MA

Thank you also for your perseverance over the past 18 months … I am so grateful that it was YOU who was our partner on this one. I can think of few designers who would have been as accommodating and helpful as you were.

DEBBIE DOUGLAS  PhD, Curator of Science and Technology,

MIT Museum

Stata Center
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Client: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Museum
Curator: Debbie Douglas
Exhibit Design: Proun Design, LLC
Exhibit Fabrication: Back Bay Signs, Advanced Photographics
Budget: 27k
Opened: 2004

Building 20 was designed as a temporary structure in 1943 to house the growing radar laboratories at MIT and became one of the most productive subcultures ever to thrive on a university campus. “Its temporary nature permitted its occupants to abuse it in ways that would not be tolerated in a permanent building. If you wanted to run a wire from one lab to another, you didn’t ask anybody’s permission — you just got out a screwdriver and poked a hole through the wall. . . . it served as a breeding ground, or incubator, of many research areas, of the minds of its students, and of new organizations.”

55 years and countless technological innovations later, it was torn down and replaced by the Stata Center designed by world-renown architect, Frank O. Gehry. Working with MIT museum curator, Debbie Douglas and copywriter Kathleen Thurston-Lighty, proun designed the lobby exhibits that commemorate “The Magical Incubator” as it came to be known.

The exhibits feature a c.1945 radar antenna with an 8' radar dish. Quotes of former occupants of Building 20 radiate from the dish, onto the adjacent wall, and across the window overlooking the lobby. Interpretive panels featuring photos and quotes illuminate the achievements of some of Building 20’s former residents—from Doc Edgerton’s famous strobe photography to Noam Chompsky’s linguistics research to Dr. Bose’s acoustics achievements.

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