Have you heard of the Xie Bunker? Probably not. The blast shelter, now a skylight-bright nook in Mallinckrodt, acted as a firewall for research that used dangerous explosive gases and compounds. Mike Paterno, alongside CCB’s previous Facilities Manager Jerry Connors, discovered the shelter during one of CCB’s many renovations. Both Mallinckrodt and Converse Labs, built in 1927, hide a wealth of CCB history within their walls. And Mike, CCB’s Senior Facilities Manager, unearths new mysteries and quirks with each renovation. If you are privileged enough to receive a tour, you’ll discover that his memory houses just as much knowledge as the walls around you.
To commemorate Mike’s dedication and show our appreciation, we asked him to share a few memories, such as the one above. With characteristic humility and speed, he obliged:
Q: Where did you work prior to joining Harvard?
A: I worked for a few different building control companies. The building automation systems control and monitor different mechanical systems in a building, including HVAC, Lighting, Fume hoods, and other safety equipment.
Q: What was your first role at Harvard?
A: My first role here was Facility Manager, which at Harvard has many different aspects depending on your assigned area. The Sciences tend to be more mechanical-based while houses tend to be heavy on the operational functions. And yet, both have customer service as an important part of our daily function.
Q: What work challenges keep you up at night?
A: My biggest concern is student safety. We strive to make the correct choices to protect our students, faculty and staff. This pertains to both daily maintenance and the latest renovation projects.
Q: In 20 years, what differences would you hope to see in the CCB buildings?
A: It’s amazing to think that, after 90 years, we still perform state-of-the-art research in these same buildings. I hope this trend continues.
Q: What hobbies occupy your time outside the CCB halls?
A: I like to keep active outside of work. I enjoy time at the gym, playing squash, cycling, and Friday Wallyball nights with friends. I also enjoy relay races like Reach the Beach, 100 on 100 and paddling on the Charles River with a group of friends. And, I’m also involved with our town’s girls’ softball program and parent’s music committee for the high school music program.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
A: The last 15 years have gone by fast. This is a great place to work, with many dedicated people. I have learned to keep an open mind, push for what you feel is right, and have as much fun as you can.