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MIT Lincoln Laboratory, a key center of advanced electronic and military technology since it was founded at the request of the US Air Force in 1951, formally opened its new South Laboratory Building on Saturday.
"Lincoln Laboratory's contributions toward strengthening the science and technology base of the United States have indeed been significant. This new facility that we dedicate today will provide the setting for continued service to the nation in the decades ahead," MIT President Charles M. Vest said.
Laboratory Director Walter E. Morrow Jr. commented, "This facility provides quality laboratory and office space that is allowing us to consolidate activities from several off-site locations within a single efficient complex. The resulting benefits of the increased staff interaction and sharing of resources will further enhance the Laboratory's effectiveness." The four-story, 490,000-square-foot building presently houses approximately 1,000 of the 2,280 employees at Lincoln Laboratory.
Congressman John P. Murtha (D-PA), ranking minority member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on National Security, was the keynote speaker at the dedication. Rep. Murtha, who lives in Johnstown, PA, and has represented Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District since 1975, was chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee from 1989 through 1994.
In introducing Rep. Murtha, MIT Chairman Paul E. Gray said, "Jack Murtha has sought to insure technological superiority for the men and women in the armed forces for many years. His support of advanced technology development has helped build western Pennsylvania's reputation as a technology center. His recognition of the importance of university-based federally funded research and development centers is based not only on MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, but also the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Rep. Murtha is a strong advocate of education, especially continuing education and professional development, as well as the need for Defense Department graduate fellowships for engineers."
Rep. Murtha discussed the Congressional struggle with the budget. "We'll make some mistakes. We bled ourselves in fighting the Soviets-we paid a heavy price in money and in blood. As we reduce the amount of money in the federal budget, it's going to be a brutal battle," he said.
The 22-year veteran congressman noted with appreciation the contributions made toward minimizing the cost to the federal budget through the private financing of the $109 million Lincoln Laboratory project and "the austere office of Mr. Morrow." Concluding, Rep. Murtha told the crowd of about 400, "Thank you for the nation. Thank you for the technology you have produced which has avoided war for so many years."
Also speaking was John M. Deutch, director of Central Intelligence and former MIT provost. Dr. Deutch paid tribute to Lincoln Laboratory as "one of the premier technical strengths of the country, a key to the economic health of this state and region," and an asset which will help "keep the nation safe both militarily and economically."
The formation of the construction project team began in April 1990 when the Laboratory selected Spaulding & Slye as the developer and Perini Corp. as the general contractor through a competitive selection process. Lincoln Laboratory and Spaulding & Slye then selected Jung/Brannen Associates, Inc. of Boston, a firm known for its excellence in modern laboratory design, as the project architect. Other team members included John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co. which provided the project financing, and R. G. Vanderweil Engineers and Lev Zetlin Associates, the leading engineering consultants.
The experience and expertise of the Laboratory are widely used by the Department of Defense in the areas of surveillance, identification, and communications, as well as by the Federal Aviation Administration in the area of advanced air traffic control technology and by other government agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Laboratory has been at the center of advances ranging from materials and semiconductor device fabrication to missile defense, air defense, military satellite communications and radar that can detect tanks or other targets hidden under foliage. More than 60 high-technology companies employing more than 100,000 people, with annual sales revenue reaching $16 billion, have spun off from Lincoln Laboratory.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 24, 1995.