The exhaustive renewal of Building 31’s major systems has nearly 70 workers from 18 trades working together at all times — a feat only possible because of the cooperation of the temporarily displaced occupants. “One of the key factors contributing to the success of this project has been the incredible flexibility of our faculty, students, and staff who have been moved into temporary quarters to allow us to empty the building. This has not only sped up the project, but also helped to lower the overall cost,” said AeroAstro space manager Anthony Zolnik. Some research activities must continue in the building during renovations, making the project more challenging. Brian Donnellan, an MIT Facilities senior project manager said, “We need to plan around research activities to minimize any impacts experienced with the byproducts of construction, including noise and vibration,”
Building 31 in late 1928. East and west wings will come later. (George Davis/MIT Museum)
Sarah Yazici, another senior project manager, added, “A unique and interesting challenge in this renovation is tackling the reconstruction and upgrading of the DeLaval Wind Tunnel System.” The DeLaval operates at supersonic wind speeds with a tunnel structure that runs vertically through the building across all floors of the west wing of 31. Noise mitigation is required throughout.
A key feature of the renovated building will be a new high-bay space housing the Center for Autonomous Systems. This 80-foot-long, 40-foot wide, and 25-foothigh space is nearly the size of a basketball court, will be used for testing of aerial robotic systems, and represents a major upgrade over the current space used for testing aerial autonomous vehicles. The new space is so large that it can be split in half for concurrent research, and will include state-of-the-art motion capture cameras and augmented reality created by overhead projectors that illuminate the floor.
Annual magazine review of MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department research and educational initiatives.