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Baker House

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Baker House
Address: 362 Memorial Drive
Building # W7
Occupancy: 318
Room Types: singles, doubles, triples, quads
Dining: Dining hall (meal plan required), one "country kitchen"
Housemasters: Professor Dava Newman & Guillermo Trotti
Architect: Alvar Aalto
Opened: 1948
Housing info:



Opened in 1949, Baker House was the first MIT dormitory on West Campus and the first with a dining hall. When described, it is commonly referred to as a "social dorm."

Baker House was designed by the famed Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, at the time a visiting professor of architecture. It is one of only two buildings in the United States by Aalto (the other is the library of Mount Angel Abbey in St. Benedict, Oregon).

Baker House is named for Everett Moore Baker (1901-1950), the MIT Dean of Students from 1947-1950, when Baker House was built and opened. He died in an airplane crash in August 1950. Before being named in Dean Baker's honor, the dorm was referred to as the New Senior House (not to be confused with Senior House) and the New Dormitory (not to be confused with New House).

Ground was broken for the dormitory in October 1947. The initial room rate for all residents was $180/year.

Originally a single-sex dorm for men, Baker House went coed in 1974. However, the urinals in all restrooms were not removed until the renovations in 1998-1999.

Room Types

  • Couch: The largest type of single room at Baker, named as such because a couch will fit in the room. Couches can range in size from about 140 to about 185 square feet.
  • Pie: A mid-size single at Baker House, named as such because of the pie shape of the room.
  • Coffin: The smallest room type at Baker House, ranging from about 105-120 square feet.
  • Quad: The most common type of room for freshmen at Baker, quads are one large room with two sets of bunked beds. Quads are about 395-445 square feet.
  • Front Double: Among the most coveted rooms in Baker, front doubles are spacious rooms for two people with a beautiful view of the Boston skyline. Front Doubles are about 300-330 square feet.

Baker Furniture

The distinctive furniture in Baker House was designed by Alvar Aalto himself. Each furniture piece has its own nickname in Baker lingo.

  • Elephant: A tall wooden armoire with sliding doors.
  • Giraffe: A floor-to-ceiling wooden bookshelf.
  • Armadillo* A short, rolling cabinet with pullout drawers which fits under the desk.
  • Alligator: Wooden pullout drawers under the bed.

Architectural Features

  • Serpentine shape: The S-curve plan of the building increases the surface area of the south (Charles River)-facing side of the dorm. Because of this shape, approximately 90% of the rooms have a river and skyline view.
  • Bricks: The walls and facade of Baker are red brick.
  • "Moon Garden": The "moon garden" refers to the roof of the two-story dining hall, which is punctuated by cylindrical skylights.
  • Fireplace: The large fireplace is the centerpiece of the first floor gathering area.
  • Roofdeck: A great place to view the Boston skyline, watch the July 4th fireworks, and drop a piano from.
  • West Lounges: The largest and liveliest lounges on each floor are on the west side of the dorm, near to most of the doubles, triples, and quads.

Baker House People


  • Dean Frederick G. Fassett, Jr. & Julie Fassett, 1951 - 1953
  • Professor Samuel J. Mason & Jean Mason, 1953 - 1957
  • Professor Norman N. Holland '47 & Jane Holland, 1957 - 1960
  • Professor Alar Toomre '57, 1961 - 1962
  • Professor E. Lee Gamble, 1962 - 1968
  • Professor Isadore Amdur, 1968 - 1969
  • Professor M. Nafi Toksoz & Helena Toksoz, 1969 - 1980
  • Professor Harald A. T. O. Reiche & Irene Reiche, 1980 - 1989
  • Professor William B. Watson & Myra Harrison-Watson, 1989 - 2005
  • Professor Dava Newman & Guillermo Trotti, 2005 - present

Notable Alumni/ae

  • Kenneth (Ken) Olsen '50, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and inventor of magnetic core memory
  • Amar Bose '51, founder & Chairman of Bose Corporation and inventor of numerous audio technologies
  • Burton Richter '52, Nobel Laureate in Physics (1976), co-discovered the J/ψ meson
  • Sidney Altman '60, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry (1989), discovered catalytic properties of RNA
  • Alan Guth '68, MIT Physics Professor and originator of the inflationary universe theory
  • Jerrold (Jerry) Grochow '68, MIT Vice President for Information Services & Technology
  • Victor Ambros '75, Lasker Award winner (2008), discovered the first known microRNA (miRNA)
  • Larry Kahn '75, former holder of the world singles title in tiddlywinks
  • Catherine (Cady) Coleman '83, NASA Astronaut
  • Wesley (Wes) Bush '83, CEO & President, Northrop Grumman
  • Jonathan Gruber '87, MIT Economics Professor and health care reformer
  • Charles (Charlie) Korsmo '00, actor in movies such as "Dick Tracy," "Hook," and "Can't Hardly Wait"
  • Wesley Chan '00, developed Google Voice, Google Toolbar, and Google Analytics


The dining hall features a Chickering concert grand piano and is available to all residents.

Piano Drop

Baker House is well known for its annual "Piano Drop." The residents of Baker first conducted Piano Drop in November 1972, dropping a deceased piano from the roofdeck to the ground below. Until Amherst Alley was moved in 1984, pianos were be dropped directly onto Amherst Street. The volume of the resulting crater in the street is the official MIT unit of volume, the "Bruno," named for Charlie Bruno '74, the Baker House leader of the first piano drop.

Piano Drop was the top vote-getter in the MIT Museum’s public competition to nominate and select items for the MIT150 Exhibition.