RLE began in 1946 in the former location of the wartime MIT Radiation Laboratory in “temporary” MIT building 20 (which was finally demolished in 1998 to make way for the new Stata Complex). This wooden barracks-type structure on Vassar Street in Cambridge soon became obsolete for the rapidly growing RLE.

In 1957, while retaining significant activities in building 20, the majority of RLE moved into the newly constructed Karl Taylor Compton Laboratories (MIT building 26). Dr. Compton had been MIT’s ninth president, and it was during his term that the Radiation Laboratory was established at MIT. RLE shared building 26 with the Laboratory for Nuclear Science and the MIT Computation Center.

In 1973, the growing Laboratory expanded further into all of the new building 36 within the Sherman Fairchild Electrical Engineering and Electronics Complex. Located at 50 Vassar Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Fairchild complex includes an eight-storey structure which houses core space of the Research Laboratory of Electronics( MIT building 36), an adjoining six-storey structure (MIT building 38) housing RLE laboratories, the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the Microsystems Technology Laboratories.

The six-storey EG&G Education Center (MIT building 34) was constructed in 1983, which provides a physical link between the two buildings and additional conference and lecture rooms.

At the time of its completion in 1973, the Fairchild Complex was the single largest building project at MIT since the Cambridge campus was constructed in 1916.

The complex is named in memory of Sherman M. Fairchild, the late founder and chairman of Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corporation, Fairchild Semiconductor, Fairchild Industries, and the Fairchild Foundation.

The Chicago firm of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill designed the two concrete and glass buildings which contain classrooms, laboratories, offices, instrument rooms, and mechanical and electronic shops.

Since 1997, over $12M has been re-invested back into the core RLE facilities in MIT buildings 26, 36, and 38 in the form of extensive laboratory and office renovations. Additional significant renovations are underway today.