Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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Maseeh Hall exterior photo

Fariborz Maseeh Hall, Building W1

305 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA

Status: Complete

Themes: Innovation and collaboration
Renovation and renewal
Enhancement of life and learning

Completion: 2011

Now extensively renovated, historic Building W1 has become an undergraduate residence (featuring The Howard Dining Hall) designed to enhance student life and the community experience.


Maseeh Hall exterior photo
Maseeh Hall Howard dining hall photo
Maseeh Hall lobby photo
Maseeh Hall exterior at night photo
Maseeh Hall dorm room photo
Maseeh Hall lobby photo



Completion Date


Themes and priorities

Innovation and collaboration
Renovation and renewal
Enhancement of life and learning

Opened in August of 2011, Fariborz Maseeh Hall accommodates 460 students and adds a vibrant undergraduate living and learning community to MIT’s residential options. The renovated facility includes the new state-of-the-art Howard Dining Hall, a gorgeous space that encourages informal interactions, provides a full meal plan for residents, and offers dining for other members of the larger MIT community. This pleasant gathering place is strategically located near the geographic center of campus.

Originally built in 1901 as Riverbank Court, the building began life as a hotel with apartments. Purchased in the late 1930’s by MIT and converted into a graduate residence hall, the building was later named Ashdown House in honor of its first and long-time housemaster, Avery Ashdown. Its recent extensive renovation was made possible in part by a generous donation from alumnus Fariborz Maseeh ScD ’90. In recognition of his gift, MIT renamed the undergraduate residence hall in his honor. Maseeh Hall added capacity that enabled MIT to restore its undergraduate student population to about 4,500 students.

The renewed and renovated building – which received LEED Gold certification – supports the Institute’s environmental goals and contains many sustainable features. These include heat recovery methods in the HVAC system, energy efficient lighting, and sustainable finish materials. The construction waste management plan resulted in 93% of waste being recycled and diverted from landfills. The project earned preservation awards from the Cambridge Historic Commission, as well as The Society for College and University Planning (SCUP)/AIA-CAE.

Image credits

Chris Brown, Benjamin Johnson/Shawmut Design and Construction



305 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA

Renewal Status




Project Team

Design/Build firm: Shawmut Design and Construction, Boston, MA, with Miller Dyer Spears, Boston, MA
MIT team: Bernard Richard, Sonia Richards, and Travis Wanat


160,000 gsf

Design Features

  • Seven stories
  • Interior renovated and architectural features restored
  • Upgraded building envelope
  • All new windows
  • Masonry cleaned and joints re-pointed
  • Limestone features repaired or replaced
  • Roof parapets re-built and seismically braced
  • Two copper cupolas replaced
  • The iconography of the building was retained with appropriate choices made in the interior furniture, lighting and fixtures
  • The Lobby of Maseeh Hall features a Guasatvino tiled vault

Sustainable Design Elements

  • Total re-use of historical building
  • Construction waste management plan that resulted in 93% of waste being recycled and diverted from landfills
  • Heat recovery methods in the HVAC system
  • Metered electrical usage by floor can be utilized by the occupants for energy savings competitions
  • Low emitting materials including adhesives, sealants, and paints
  • Cooking grease to be collected and used for bio-fuel
  • Food disposal by-products to be used for compost


Excellence in Architecture for Restoration or Preservation, Merit Award, Society for College and University Planning (SCUP)/AIA-CAE, 2012

Preservation Award, Cambridge Historical Commission, 2010