Killian Court
MIT Killian Court.jpg
The court in 2008
General information
Town or cityBoston, Massachusetts

Killian Court is part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States.[1]


The court during a blizzard in 2015
The court during a blizzard in 2015

Bosworth's plan was notable for rejecting the prevailing conventions of separated buildings and retreat from the urban area, as was found in other new American campuses. The Great Court, renamed Killian Court in 1974 after President James Rhyne Killian, faces the river and the Boston skyline and "emphasizes the institution's openness to the urban environment and fulfills Maclaurin's ambition."[2] Killian Court was originally hard-paved, but was converted into a park-like area of grass and trees in the late 1920s. Bosworth had planned to install a three-story-high statue of Minerva at the center of the court, but funds for this embellishment were never appropriated. Today, Killian Court is the site of the annual Commencement ceremony, and is otherwise used for studying, relaxing, and playing Frisbee games in good weather.


The friezes of the marble-clad buildings surrounding Killian Court are carved in large Roman letters with the names of Aristotle, Newton, Franklin, Pastevr, Lavoisier, Faraday, Archimedes, da Vinci, Darwin, and Copernicvs; each of these names is surmounted by a cluster of appropriately related names in smaller letters. Lavoisier, for example, is placed in the company of Boyle, Cavendish, Priestley, Dalton, Gay-Lussac, Berzelivs, Woehler, Liebig, Bvnsen, Mendelejeff [sic], Perkin, and van't Hoff.[3] The names are carved in the classic Roman square capitals using the Latin alphabet, with "V" instead of "U"; also, "I" should have been used instead of "J", since the latter letter of each pair did not exist in ancient times. Inexplicably, the letter "J" is used anyway, along with "W", which are both blatant anachronisms in the typographic styling of the inscriptions.


  1. ^ "The Backstory of Killian Court".
  2. ^ Jarzombek 2004, pp. 94–113
  3. ^ "Names on Attics of Pavilions". MIT Archives. Archived from the original on 2010-05-19. Retrieved 2011-04-20.


42°21′32″N 71°05′29″W / 42.35877°N 71.09148°W / 42.35877; -71.09148