Renovated Building 9 reopens under new name

On September 12, Building 9 reopened under a new name, the Samuel Tak Lee Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab, after a major but rapid renovation.

In addition to various physical improvements, the STL Lab now groups together all of MIT’s real estate and urban studies programs under the same roof.

The renovations were made possible after Samuel Tak Lee ’62 made a $118 million gift in January 2015. This historically large gift was intended to promote real estate entrepreneurship at MIT.

The most visible changes were increased natural lighting in classrooms, large vistas onto Mass Ave, and the appearance of study spaces on the upper floors. The centerpiece of this effort is the second floor’s “city arena”: an interactive work-study space equipped with new presentation and communication technologies.

The renovations took only three months to complete, a schedule described as “beyond aggressive” by Jim Harrington, director of facilities for the School of Architecture and Planning. To stay on schedule, construction continued on weekends and workers took double shifts.

A new HVAC system was installed on the roof of the building. The previous one was installed in the basement and used to suck in diesel fumes from nearby loading docks. The change of location required the ducts to be rerouted from a bottom-up to a top-down network.

To improve the building’s energy efficiency, all 600 windows were replaced. This operation was done at night to minimize noise disruptions to nearby labs.

The STL Center was also upgraded to meet current accessibility norms. This involved installing a new elevator to give access to the 6th floor - a penthouse with a 360-degree view, updating ramps to allow for wheelchair access, and adding additional accessible bathrooms.