They made the best of times in the worst of times, and this spring the present and former occupants of MIT's Building 20 will be honoredin a two-day "last look" at life in the barracks-like shelter for projects ranging from the ultra-secret Radar Center in World War II to the ultra-hip University Film Studies Center.
"MIT's Building 20: The Magical Incubator" will be held March 26 and 27. A full-day program in Edgerton Hall (Rm 34-101) will include speakers highlighting noteworthy developments over the decades as well as demonstrations of research conducted in the venerable building.
Speakers at the event will include Professor Paul L. Penfield, Jr., head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), "The Magical Incubator"; Ted Saad (SB '41), "The Early Years"; Professor of Physics Rainer Weiss, "From Atomic Clocks to Gravity Waves"; and Gill Pratt, assistant professor of EECS, "Learning by Doing" (student projects such as the Solar Electric Vehicle Team and the Tech Model Railroad Club).
All former and current occupants of Building 20 are invited to attend the celebration and also to add their reminiscences of life and work within the warren of offices and laboratories.
To collect and share these mem-ories,the Research Laboratory of Electronics has a Building 20 web page at
Building 20 occupants have included the Acoustics Lab, the Laboratory for Nuclear Science, the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, the Guided Missiles Program Office, Shipping and Receiving, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, the Integrated Studies Program, the Center for Space Research, a music piano lab, Urban Action and the Quarter Century Club.
Built as temporary research space in 1943, Building 20 will be torn down this summer and a new complex for computer, artificial intelligence and information sciences, will be built on the site.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 11, 1998.