Building History and Numbering System
If you have been trying to figure out the building numbering system here on campus... stop right here! Although not the best-reasoned system in the world, there is a certain, albeit limited logic, to the numbering of the buildings.
When MIT was built in 1916, the central group of buildings on campus was oriented toward the Charles River. The Dome Building, which is Building 10, with large foyer [Lobby 10], was meant to be the main entrance. All other buildings were arranged around Building 10, with the odd numbered buildings to the right as you face the river, and the even numbered on the left.
With this orientation, then, Buildings 1 and 2 were at the “front” of the campus. Buildings 5 and 3 and 4 and 6 were arranged symmetrically behind them, with 7 and 8 in back of those, all following the odd-even arrangement around the central building, Building 10.
In 1938, the main entrance was moved to its present location in Building 7, located on Massachusetts Avenue. The Infinite Corridor, which extends all the way to the corner of Ames and Main Streets begins here.
MIT was designed so that people could move easily from building to building without going outside. The result of this planning was the Infinite Corridor, a 775-foot-long hallway that extends from the main MIT entrance in Building 7, through Buildings 3, 10, and 4, all the way to Building 8 and beyond, and then there are the underground tunnels which parallel the infinite corridor but cross over Ames Street to buildings E19, E25, etc. These tunnels are high traffic areas especially in stormy weather. If you dare to venture downÉjust ask a colleague for the nearest entrance!
Although no longer the main entrance, Lobby 10 during the academic year hosts a daily bazaar of student and community activities — food; ticket sales; pottery, jewelry and crafts sales; blood drives; etc. The elevators for the central set of buildings are located just behind Lobby 10.
Lobby 7, the main entrance, has a culture of its own. It is a pick-up point for campus publications, such as Tech Talk, published every Wednesday by the MIT News Office, and The Tech, a twice-weekly student newspaper; a constant display of posters on 3 separate poster display kiosks. There is also an Information Center in Lobby 7 where you can get directions and maps and consult the large Video Information Kiosk against the wall.
Buildings beyond the central area of the campus have numbers that are preceded by letters corresponding to compass points:
- W – to the west, across Mass. Ave. from the central buildings;
- N – to the north, across the railroad tracks that cross Mass. Ave. and parallel Vassar Street;
- E – to the east, across Ames Street, where the Wiesner Building and the medical center are;
- NW – to the northwest, across Mass. Ave. and beyond the tracks.
Thus, Building W20, the Stratton Student Center, is west of (across) Mass. Ave.; N51, the MIT Museum, is north of the railroad tracks; and the Wiesner Building (E15) and the Personnel Office (E19) are east of Ames Street. There is no system that explains the numbering of these buildings, so be sure to consult a map before you try to find one.