Heads Up! The Baker House Piano Drop

by Jay London on April 27, 2012

in Campus Culture, Events, Hacks, In the News, Remember When..., Student Life

The baby grand piano, before its demise

By all accounts, the Baker House Piano Drop–the hack-like tradition that coincides with the last day students can drop classes during the semester–was a smash.

This year’s drop marks the 40-year anniversary of the event, which first took place in 1972, occurred sporadically in the 1980s and 1990s, and became an annual tradition in 2005. About 200 spectators watched a piano tossed from the roof of the Baker House onto another piano six stories below.

The drop occurred over an enclosed section of lawn on the Memorial Drive side of Baker House. Shortly after the drop, spectators scrambled for souvenirs, including keys, hammers, and strings.

Piano lovers can breathe easy; no playable ivories were harmed in the piano-on-piano violence.

From The Boston Globe:

The search for keepsakes

“The pianos find us,’’ said Michael Plasmeier, the current Baker House president, sitting in the dorm lobby on a recent day.

This year, he said, the dorm was contacted by a donor who had five baby grands ready for the junkyard. The man was happy to provide the pianos, as long as the students took all five off his hands, even though they require only one.

In MIT terminology, the six-floor piano drop is referred to as a “Bruno,” named after Charles Bruno ’74, who heaved the first piano off the Baker roof in 1972. In official Institute jargon, a Bruno is “a unit of volume resulting from a piano falling six stories onto Amherst Alley from the roof of the Baker House.”

Thomas Moriarty '14 and Connor Humber '15 celebrate their souvenirs.

If you’re curious about the exact distance of a Bruno, you’re in luck. Professor and Slice contributor Patrick Henry Winston ’65, SM ’67, PhD ’70 did the calculations.

Caesar had the Ides of March. We have Drop Day. I always wondered how tall Baker House is, so I joined the throng on Memorial Drive, recorded my data, and reached back into 8.01:

s = 1/2 at2
a = 32.2 ft / sec2
61 frames at 30 frames/sec = 2.03 sec
t2 = (2.03 sec)2 = 4.12 sec2

Voila! 66 feet.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Joseph Gionta April 27, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Glad to see the tradition lives on. I was happy to be a part of the re-birth in 2005! Congrats Martijn and Deebs and Tom on reigniting this tradition

Reply

Jingtao Liu October 22, 2013 at 4:31 am

Awesome!

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