• An old piano on the roof of Baker House awaits its launch at the dormitory's annual piano drop. In a tradition dating back to the early 1970s, Baker's residents drop a piano from the six-story building to commemorate the last day to drop classes.

    Photo: Thomas Gearty

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  • This year, another old piano was used as a target on the lawn between Baker House and Memorial Drive. The event only uses pianos that are in such disrepair that they are already slated for demolition.

    Photo: Thomas Gearty

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  • Plywood panels protect windows and the exterior of Baker House from debris behind the "target" piano. Although in theory the event marks the last day to drop classes, this year the Piano Drop was held at the MIT Open House to celebrate the Institute's 150th anniversary.

    Photo: Dani DeSteven

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  • MIT senior and Baker House president Brian Luque uses a bullhorn to tell the waiting crowd six stories down that the piano is about to be dropped.

    Photo: Thomas Gearty

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  • MIT senior Andy Wu — safely tethered to the rooftop — gets ready to send the piano on its way.

    Photo: Thomas Gearty

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  • The crowd looks up in anticipation, some with cameras at the ready, moments before the piano is dropped.

    Photo: Dani DeSteven

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  • The piano catches the late afternoon sunlight for a glorious moment before plunging to the lawn below.

    Photo: Dani DeSteven

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  • The piano hits the ground — and another piano placed as a target — at the annual Baker House Piano Drop. A challenge every year is aim: will the piano hit the target?

    Photo: Thomas Gearty

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  • After the piano has dropped — and it is safe to enter the drop zone — the crowd rushes in to grab keys and other mementos.

    Photo: Thomas Gearty

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  • Keys are a prized souvenir from the Piano Drop, and several from past drops are on display at the MIT Museum.

    Photo: Dani DeSteven

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  • The rooftop team at the annual Baker House Piano Drop: (back row) sophomore Christina Qi, senior Brian Luque, junior Abhinav Jain, junior Ijeoma Emeagwali, junior Jonathan Wang, (front row) sophomore Annabeth Gellman, senior Andy Wu, and senior Stacey Allen.

    Photo: Thomas Gearty

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Flying piano solo

Baker House celebrates MIT150 open house with its annual Piano Drop.


The undergraduate residents of Baker House celebrated MIT's 150th anniversary by following their own 40-year tradition: dropping a piano from their dorm's roof in an annual, smashing rite of spring.

The Baker House Piano Drop, held sporadically since 1972 and every year since 2006, usually commemorates the last day to drop classes at MIT. This year, the dorm's residents moved the event to Saturday, April 30, to share the spectacle of a piano plunging six stories to the ground with thousands of visitors at the "Under the Dome" Open House.

Each year, the dropped piano is in such bad repair that it is already slated for demolition. In addition, as a general practice, MIT's Office of Residential Life maintains a fleet of functional pianos throughout the undergraduate housing system, keeping them tuned and well cared for.

The Piano Drop is a storied event for MIT. Last year, in a public vote, the Piano Drop was the most popular nomination for the MIT Museum's MIT150 Exhibition. The Piano Drop led the list of about 400 nominations to help the MIT Museum staff select objects for the Institute's sesquicentennial exhibition, which opened in January.

View the accompanying slideshow to get a glimpse of this unique MIT tradition.


Topics: Campus buildings and architecture, History of MIT, MIT150, Special events and guest speakers, Student life, Students

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