MIT Institute Archives & Special Collections



Records, 1916-2000 [1953-2000]

Archival Collection - AC 205

Agency History | Scope and Content Note | Series Descriptions | Contents List

Provenance and Processing Information

14 record cartons, 934 manuscript boxes, 11 flat document boxes, 671 tubes (452 linear feet)

ACCESS: The collection may be partially restricted.

COPYRIGHT: Requests for permission to publish material from the collection should be directed to the Head of the Institute Archives and Special Collections.

* * * * *


Philip Stoddard, Vice President of Operations and Personnel, established the Planning Office in 1958. The office staff assumed many of the functions previously assigned to the Division of Business Administration and the Department of Buildings and Power. The initial purpose of the new office was to help create a comprehensive planning framework for the long-range development of buildings and other facilities on the MIT campus. Malcom Rivkin was appointed planning officer. In 1960, Robert Simha became the director and remained as director until the office closed in 2000. The Planning Office reported successively to the Office of the Vice President of Operations and Personnel, 1958-1968; Vice President, Organization Systems, 1968-1971; Vice President Administration and Personnel, 1971-1976; Vice President, Operations, 1976-1982; Senior Vice President, 1982-1992; Senior Vice President, Operations, 1992-1998; and Executive Vice President, 1998-2000.

Activities in the office’s formative years focused on the establishment of appropriate concepts and the mapping out of specific directions relating to MIT’s physical environment and the needs of the academic, research, and administrative programs of MIT. A further objective was to relate the Institute’s planning to that of the surrounding community in the City of Cambridge. From the mid-1970s the Planning Office concentrated its activities on three areas: community planning, institutional research, and project planning support. More specific foci have included a campus landscape program, handicapped accessibility projects, transportation and parking, housing, and plans for academic facilities. Of special importance in academic planning was the work of the institutional research staff within the Planning Office who produced a variety of materials for MIT’s president and provost in support of academic planning, including policy analyses and comparative information from other universities.

In 2000 the multifaceted functions of the Planning Office were reorganized by MIT for the purpose of aligning staff more closely with the departments and business processes that rely on their expertise. Members of the Planning Office staff were reassigned to the Provost’s Office, the Office of Facilities, the Office of the Dean of Students, and the Office of the Executive Vice President.

Return to top


Campus Planning | The Institute: Post-World War II Expansion and Change | Surveys and Studies | Community/Urban Renewal/Cambridge | Visual Documentation | Arrangement

A major strength of this set of records is its size (959 boxes, 671 sets of drawings), reflecting the gradual creation of files over a span of almost fifty years. The bulk of material in the collection dates between 1953 and 1999. Over seven hundred projects about the MIT campus are represented, mostly in the Project Files, Series I, and in Series II, Drawing Files. A substantial amount of background information produced outside of MIT is part of the collection, much of it in Series III, Library Files. The Library Files have been retained as a series because of their potential use to those interested in local history.

Campus Planning

Anyone interested in the development of the field of campus planning will find this detailed set of records relating to the development of MIT’s urban campus to be a rich resource for research. Of particular note are some of the numbered projects found in both Series I and Series II, Project Files and Drawing Files: the 1960 campus master plan (project P60-09), long-range planning studies (P67-16, P75-08, P75-09), east campus (P70-101, P78-01, P95-05), and landscape design projects (P64-02, P68-06, P70-06, P72-09, P85-05, P85-06, P97-14). A tactual map of the MIT campus (P72-16) for the blind was one of many projects designed for special needs, as well as many completed in the 1990s to update facilities to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Series III, subseries “Colleges and Universities,” consists of publications, reports, and brochures gathered to form a subject file about campus environments and buildings at a number of college campuses across the United States. It is especially valuable to anyone studying trends in campus planning and design.

A project at MIT with results of value beyond its campus was the development of a space inventory and management system, which was shared in a consortium arrangement with other colleges. Information about the projects relating to the management software, INSITE, can be found in Project Files, Series I (P67-18, P72-08). Space inventories produced with the software are located in Series V, Building and Space Inventories.

Information about the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP), at whose meetings campus planning ideas were discussed, can be found in Series III, subseries “Associations and Conferences.” Planning Office staff were active members of SCUP.

Return to top

The Institute: Post-World War II Expansion and Change

The Planning Office worked closely with various Institute offices; therefore, much can be found in this collection about the work and history of the Institute from its post-World War II expansion to the end of the twentieth century. The history and growth of MIT are especially evident in the evolving role of the Planning Office, as outlined in the Agency History. Corporation development efforts, beginning in 1960 with the Second Century Fund campaign, generated capital for new buildings and the need for a comprehensive campus plan, long-range planning in the academic arena, and the need for historical data to use in planning and decision making. Planning Office staff worked over time with the Institute’s Building Committee, Long Range Planning Committee, Campus Research and Space Planning (CRSP), and academic departments.

The campus envisioned by President Karl Compton during the development campaign in connection with the Mid-Century Convocation (1949) and later by President James Killian in his description for MIT’s Second Century Campaign, when funds were to be raised to “create new facilities for research…to develop further the physical environment of our campus so that it may contribute more effectively to the life of each student,” [ Report to the President, 1962, p.1] can be seen to take shape in projects that followed for specific buildings, and its progress can be surveyed by browsing the chronological listing of projects in Series I, Project Files. The Student Center building project (P57-01) and later projects for the renovation and construction of athletics facilities (P72-103) reflect attention paid to students’ needs and a changing demographic as the number of women students began to increase. Likewise, the development of research subject areas can be monitored. As major funding and grants were awarded to MIT, research centers and laboratories were established and facilities built to accommodate staff.

In the 1990s, Planning Office staff assembled a set of reports created by various MIT offices relating to housing issues. Those can be found in Series IV, subseries “Housing.”

Return to top

Surveys and Studies

As the physical plant and academic and research areas grew through the 1960s and 1970s with a corresponding larger staff and student body, so did the need for information to renew and create Institute policies relating to those areas. Institutional research carried out by Planning Office staff supported academic administrators and initiatives of the Schools of Architecture and Planning; Engineering; Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; Management; Science; and the Whitaker College of Health Sciences and Technology, as well as departments, the President’s Office, the Alumni Office, the Provost’s Office, the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs and Undergraduate Education, the Director of Finance, and the Corporation.

Research reports include five-year review plans; department profiles (see Series IV) prepared for Corporation visiting committee visits; demographic profiles of faculty, staff, and students; and capital budget review. Planning Office studies in the 1990s were created for MIT administrators who were examining housing policies for graduate and undergraduate students. Food services were also the subject of several studies including the Dining Survey Project (P80-12), Walker Memorial Dining Study (P81-05), Kosher Kitchen Dining Facility (P84-06), various housing studies, and Institute Dining Review (P96-06). Series VI, Planning Reports, is a chronological list of formal research reports issued by the Planning Office, designated by numbers prefixed by “R.”

Some studies reflect the broader social and political issues of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Parking and transportation were subjects of study as environmental issues and regulations were developed at the federal, state, and local level. Data from parking and transportation projects (P73-08, P75-13, P82-06, P84-05, P89-09, P93-14)and related topics including bicycle use (P75-13, P81-10, P81-11, P81-12, P81-18) are available as a result of MIT’s attention to planning efforts in those areas. Family, work, and child care issues also became a focus of society in the 1970s, and MIT’s response can be studied in Series I, Project Files (P70-08, P72-05, P74-11, P89-04, P98-11). For information on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), see project files in Series I and MIT Disability Advisory Committee meeting notes in Series IV, Administrative Working Files. By examining studies over a period of time, it becomes evident that as mainframe computers became available on campus in the late 1960s and early 1970s it became possible and common to do studies involving large amounts of data.

Return to top

Community/Urban Renewal/Cambridge

Records throughout the collection were created by the Planning Office to further the administrative work of MIT. However, there is additional documentation that will be of interest to the community outside of MIT, especially citizens of Cambridge and others interested in local history, because the collection also contains material created by the cities of Cambridge and Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which was gathered by the Planning Office staff as background material. Important subjects represented in these files include the political and community activity of the 1960s and 1970s relating to the federally funded Massachusetts “Inner Belt” highway project. Local transportation issues are also covered in the project file of the Boston Transportation Planning Review (P72-13). Subseries “Boston,” “Cambridge,” and “Massachusetts” in Series III, Library Files, contain most of the information about local communities.

Town-gown relationships are a topic for which there is much material showing the interactions between MIT and the City of Cambridge dating from the 1950s. Social history of the last fifty years of the 20th century can be studied using the many sources of information on housing in the City of Cambridge in Series III.

Business history as it relates to the university research environment can be studied in the files that reflect the changing industrial and corporate environment surrounding the MIT campus. Project files in Series I are a resource to follow the economic revival of Technology Square (P60-10) and the Kendall Square (P64-07, P65-12, P73-07, P78-04, P79-14, P80-03) and University Park (P69-104, P78-05, P95-37) areas of the City of Cambridge. These areas were greatly influenced by the businesses founded by MIT graduates and businesses located specifically to be near cutting edge university research. Interactions between MIT and the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority about the redevelopment of Kendall Square can be studied in the Project Files, Series I. The Library Files, Series III, contain information about the earlier efforts to develop Technology Square.

Subseries “Cambridge” in Series III is also a resource for the broader subject of urban renewal. Specific geographic areas of the City of Cambridge are represented, and because various locations are well identified it would be easy for a researcher to follow the redevelopment of parts of Cambridge from the 1950s through the 1990s. Correspondence and background information can be found on other Cambridge topics including housing, limits to growth, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements, and other more general issues of city planning. In Series I, Project Files, (P75-07) Cambridge Comprehensive Plan and (P78-05) Community Planning Group, Northwest Area are also a resource for the study of urban development and renewal.

Return to top

Visual Documentation

Architectural historians will find the various types of drawings (Series II) valuable to study the conceptual design of a particular building. The majority of numbered projects documented in Series I also have drawings in Series II. Some buildings for which there are drawings of original designs have also undergone renovation projects, and there is visual material for both projects, which shows how a building has changed over time.

Drawings from significant architectural firms are included in the project drawings. Among the firms represented are Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Goody & Clancy; I. M. Pei and Associates; Sasaki, Walker and Associates, and Gehry Partners. Planning Office staff also collected brochures and publicity material from architectural firms, which has much visual content. This material is in subseries “Architects” in Series III, Library Files, and in Project Files, Series I.

Because the Planning Office set of drawings in Series II is not the record copy of drawings and specifications, which is held by the Office of Facilities Management and Design, the type and extent of visual documentation varies for each project.

Color and black and white slides and photographs constitute a small amount of the total material in the collection and appear to have been created by staff for presentations. They are most often found in folders for specific projects in Series I. Some aerial photographs of the entire campus can be found in Series II, Drawing Files.

Return to top


Series I has two separate lists because additional material was received after the initial group was processed. Both lists should be consulted by researchers as there is overlap in dates and project numbers. Series II also has two separate lists because additional material was received after the initial group was processed. Again, both lists should be consulted by researchers as there is overlap in dates and project numbers. Series III has three separate lists because additional material was received after the initial group was processed. All three lists should be consulted by researchers as there is overlap in dates and topics.

The containers themselves in each of the six series are numbered in a continuous sequence within each series, each series beginning with box 1.

Return to top


Series I. Project Files

Series II. Drawing Files

Series III. Library Files

Series IV. Administrative Working Files

Series V. Building and Space Inventories

Series VI. Planning Reports


A central file of documents, arranged by project number, was created by the Planning Office to keep together all information relating to a project. The earliest material dates from 1953, reflecting projects that began before the office was formally organized, but for which the office assumed planning responsibility. The files for each project contain primarily material created by the Planning Office, but they may also include material created by other campus offices assembled by Planning Office staff in the course of their work The files reflect the planning and design review responsibilities of the Planning Office for Institute projects involving building and space changes and campus planning. Most of the projects relate to construction or renovation of buildings on campus, but others are studies or planning efforts on a particular topic.

Each project was assigned a number at the beginning of the project, with the first two digits reflecting the year planning began, and the second two digits its order in the sequence of projects for that year. Project files may include architectural reports, studies, memoranda, presentations, work schedules, news clippings, working papers, and final reports of a project. Project drawings in Series II are also numbered, and additional information about campus projects may be obtained by matching project numbers in both series. In some instances Archives staff had to try to determine the project number for unlabeled files; such files have brackets around the probable project numbers.

Because project files were received in several transfers to the Archives, there are two separate listings of projects in Series I, each arranged by project number. Both lists should be checked to find files for a particular project.

Return to top | series descriptions


 This series contains drawings spanning the years 1953 to 1999. The word “drawing” has been used broadly to describe this series. The original arrangement has been retained. Arrangement is by type assigned by the Planning Office (Project, Base, Reference), then by project number within each type.

Project drawings represent the majority of items in this series, and they are tied to the documents in Series I by their identifying project number, beginning with the letter “P.” They include rolled drawings, facility sketches, and schematics.

Reference drawings are identified by the letter “R.” They are not related to specific numbered projects found in Series I but broadly document the MIT campus, buildings, and the Cambridge/Boston area. They include land use maps and may show land ownership and utility lines services.

Base maps are identified by the letter “B.” Base maps establish or update information used for campus planning and include total building plans, perspectives, aerial photographs, and historical prints. The drawings were produced by the Planning Office, the Department of Physical Plant, or outside architects.

Because the drawings were received in two separate transfers to the Archives, there are two separate listings in Series II, each arranged by project number. Both lists should be checked to find files for a particular project.

Return to top | series descriptions


Architects | Associations and Conferences | Boston | Cambridge | Colleges and Universities | Massachusetts

 Series III, Library Files (a name given by the Planning Office), is composed of records created primarily by and about non-MIT individuals, groups, agencies, and organizations with which the Planning Office staff worked and corresponded. The files were created and maintained mostly as resource files. The records date from 1950to 2000 and include correspondence, memoranda, proposals, minutes, notes, and descriptive material. They were transferred to the Institute Archives in 1985, 2000, and 2001. There are three separate lists in Series III, reflecting various transfers. The dates and subject matter overlap in the three lists, so each list should be checked when looking for information on a particular topic. The records have been arranged into six subseries within each list (where relevant records were received) and are described below.


This subseries consists primarily of brochures and promotional material by and about individual architects, firms, or consultants, as well as correspondence, memoranda, notes, and minutes of meetings between the architect or firm and members of the Planning Office and occasionally the Office of Facilities. Some material is promotional literature about the work of the firm, some contains information about specific MIT projects the firm was or hoped to be involved in. The records are arranged alphabetically by name of individual architect or firm.

Associations and Conferences

This subseries includes material from professional planning and educational organizations to which Planning Office staff members belonged and whose conferences they attended. There is membership information, program packets, brochures, newsletters, papers, and background information about the organizations. The focus of a conference or group frequently related directly to issues of concern to MIT or to pending or proposed MIT projects. The subseries includes Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) documents from the 1980s. Robert Simha was a founding member of SCUP and served as society president, 1984-1985. The files are arranged alphabetically by organization.


This subseries includes correspondence, news clippings, copies of legislation, and printed material by and about Boston, Massachusetts, its government agencies, organizations, and communities, as well as information files about Boston-related issues such as transportation, development, urban renewal, and zoning that were of interest to the MIT Planning Office. The majority of records relate to city government departments, agencies, and authorities. The files are arranged alphabetically


The Cambridge subseries is the largest in Series III, reflecting the close, often complex, relationship between the Institute and the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Projects the Planning Office was involved with required permits, variances, and zoning approval. Working with community groups was necessary on projects of concern to both the MIT community and the City of Cambridge, such as housing and transportation. The majority of files were created by city agencies, departments, committees, and commissions or contain information about them. News clippings and newsletters about the City of Cambridge can also be found in this subseries. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Colleges and Universities

This subseries is largely made up of printed material such as reports, handbooks, studies, building brochures, fact books, and public relations material, collected to provide the Planning Office staff with information about how other academic institutions addressed issues and concerns faced by the Institute. These cover a wide range of topics including landscaping, student housing, planning, classroom design, transportation, and faculty housing. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by organization, topic, or academic institution. Both United States and international institutions are represented in the files.


Like the Boston subseries, the Massachusetts subseries includes correspondence and material by and about government agencies. Information files about Massachusetts-related issues such as transportation, development, urban renewal and zoning that were of interest to Planning Office staff are also in the subseries. The files are arranged alphabetically by state agency, authority, board, department, or topic.

Return to top | series descriptions


MIT - Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) | MIT - Department Profiles | MIT - Housing | MIT - Land Use | MIT - Planning Office | MIT - Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) | MIT - Surveys | MIT - Transportation, Circulation, and Parking

Series IV consists of records (1916-2001) created by MIT offices and departments, including the Planning Office, and compiled by Planning Office. Materials include correspondence, memoranda, meeting agendas and minutes, notes, surveys, reports and studies, and other related documents. They represent resource and working files of staff members including O. R. Simha, Robert K. Kaynor, Michael K.Owu, Lydia L. Snover, and Beatrice Frain. The records in this series were transferred to the Institute Archives in 1985, 2000, and 2001. Three separate listings of the records correspond to the major physical groupings of the material.

The first group, boxes 1-131, consisting of MIT-related records, was transferred to the Archives in 2000. The records were retained in their original alphabetical order.

The second group, boxes 132-186, was received in 1985 and 2000. Records appeared to be organized according to several broad categories. In an attempt to keep their original arrangement, Archives staff did not reorganize the records within each of those categories, but created seven subseries described below.

The third group, boxes 187-226, was received in 2001. Records were arranged by Archives staff alphabetically by topics, reflecting Planning Office guidelines for filing documents.

MIT - Americans with Disabilities Act ( ADA)

The bulk of the material in this subseries includes reports of the MIT Disabilities Advisory Committee, meeting notes, and other related documents. Records located in boxes 132-134 date from 1991 through 1993. In addition, Series I, Project Files, includes records related to individual ADA projects.

MIT - Department Profiles

This subseries (box 135) consists of department profiles reports, correspondence, and information on the database management system used to create and maintain profiles. Most of the records are from the late 1980s and early 1990s, but there is also background information dating back to 1970.

MIT - Housing

Records in this subseries document a wide variety of issues related to housing at MIT, one of the most important long-range planning programs at the Institute. Materials located in boxes 49-59, 136-142, and 198-210 provide information on housing history, numerous surveys and studies, housing programs at other universities, student and faculty housing, fraternities, and long-range housing plans. Records documenting individual housing projects can be found in Series I, Project Files.

MIT - Land Use

Records in this subseries (box 143) relate to issues revolving around land use at MIT and include correspondence, background information, and other related material dated from 1967 through 1991.

MIT - Planning Office

Records in this subseries, located in boxes 92-101, 144-167, and 211-220, consist mainly of Planning Office administrative and working files. They include Planning Office work programs, budget information, five-year plan projects, briefing materials, project correspondence, project file index (box 215, folders 1-3), and project and progress reports. In addition, the records may contain other background materials and/or planning projects working files compiled by Robert K. Kaynor (boxes 144-154) and Michael K. Owu (boxes 155-167).

MIT - Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC)

As part of its program for institutional research and support, the Planning Office staff gathered background material relating to the work of the MIT ROTC Working Group (1991) and the ROTC Task Force (1996). Records in this subseries document cross-registration in the ROTC program from 1969 through 1996, with the bulk of the material created in the 1980s. In addition to the records housed in boxes 168-171, some ROTC-related material may be found in Series I, Project Files.

MIT - Surveys

Records related to the “1977 Classroom Study,” dated 1965 through 1977, are located in boxes 172-173. Materials on other institutional surveys and studies can be found in boxes 222-223, as well as in Series I, Project Files.

MIT - Transportation, Circulation, and Parking

This subseries (boxes174-186 and 224-225) includes records of the Transportation and Parking Committee from 1973 through 1983, various materials related to parking, shuttle and bus services, vanpooling and share-a-ride programs, MIT transportation surveys, and parking space inventory. Additional material can be found in boxes 83-89 (filed under “parking”) and 125 (filed under “transportation”). Records documenting individual transportation projects can be found in Series I, Project Files.

Return to top | series descriptions


The series is composed of reports on MIT building and space use, most of which were created with the INSITE software program. The reports are arranged chronologically and indicate the use of space according to several categories: room lists by building, user lists by building, room lists by department, and space inventories and summaries of room use by department and users. The reports, which were generated by the Office of Facilities, usually twice each year, cover the years 1979-1994.


This series consists of preliminary reports, background papers, and final reports prepared by the Planning Office. Some have been formally published. Final reports related to studies and projects cover the years 1956 through 1994. Reports have a six-digit number: the first four digits designate the type of report, the last two digits indicate the year in which the report was issued. The reports are arranged chronologically.

Return to top | series descriptions


Series I. Project Files (PDF)

Series II. Drawing Files

Series III. Library Files (PDF)

Series IV. Administrative Working Files (PDF)

Series V. Building and Space Inventories (PDF)

Series VI. Planning Reports (PDF)


One hundred twenty-three record cartons were moved from the Planning Office into the records management program of the Institute Archives in 1985. In 2000, those boxes were accessioned into the Archives permanent collections as part of this collection, AC 205. Between 2000 and 2002, six additional transfers of material were made from the Planning Office into the Archives and accessioned as part of the permanent collection AC 205. A total of 320 record cartons, 727 tubes (sets of drawings), and 14 file cabinets were moved in the six transfers between 2000 and 2002.

Accession numbers: 2000-62, 2000-63, 2001-06, 2001-07, 2001-79, 2002-08, 2002-22

The processing of this collection was supported in part by the Office of the Executive Vice President.

Processed: 2000-2002
By: Elizabeth Andrews, Ewa Basinska, Lois Beattie, Johanna Carll, Judith Janec, Nicole Lapenta, Silvia Mejia-Suarez, Jeffrey Mifflin, Mary Eleanor Murphy

Return to top

MIT Libraries Publication Policy
Research Help
MIT Institute Archives