East Campus

Community forum December 2013

At community forums on December 11 and 12 the consultant team of Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects (MSMEA), Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA,) and Ken Greenberg Consultants gave a presentation of design concepts taking into consideration community comments provided at the November forums.

After the presentation, attendees were invited to pose questions and share comments in an open discussion. The following summary of those comments has been organized by topic. [View a PDF of the December presentation]

East campus gateway | Mix of uses | Connections | Eastgate site |

East campus gateway

December 11
  • Some people love the funky, “crummy” old buildings in Kendall Square because they have a connection to Cambridge history.  Old buildings are naturally occurring ‘innovation spaces’
  • Red Line is at its capacity with current operation.  We need new vehicles and signals to remain current.  London, Hong Kong, and Singapore all have better service.
  • Migrating the T station to the west is an option — one that might align with views of the river.  Different station location might change planning options.
  • Killian Court is beautiful.  Can we explore bringing water into the East Campus site rather than extending the site to the river?
  • Point Park is the true gateway to Kendall Square.  Pedestrian light is not working.  Any thought about repairing fountain, steam line at Point Park?
  • The design team should go beyond a conceptual approach.  Keep in mind the experience of walking from T to West Campus: garden, Kresge common, great court.  Need to create a non-building space (pearl) as continuation of existing experience.  It is bothersome that Infinite Corridor ends at west edge of East Campus.
  • On the 4th of July, East Campus is a great place to see fireworks.  There are seemingly competing ideas of Gateway showing line to river but also blocking view with a bridge on Wadsworth St.
December 12
  • The layered green space in the Princeton image and plaza at Cornell reflect the kinds of spaces that should be created at MIT.
  • If the urban ring is built in the future, the head house at the T might migrate to the west towards the Grand Junction corridor. 
  • What is to be done at Point Park as it relates to Eastgate and linkage to all transportation?  What about river connectivity?  Housing is the most important community issue.
  • Housing is not a Gateway element.  There is not enough open space and no connection to the river.  The gateway images feel closed, rather than open.
  • Charlie Sullivan has spoken about the three historic buildings as an ensemble.  Is there anything to say about the three historic buildings?
  • E38 is inaccessible and opaque. It is difficult to imagine why it should be preserved since it does not add vitality to the experience at the street level due to its architecture.

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Mix of uses

December 11
  • The team should consider working outside the defined study area.  Study the Volpe Center site in relation to the MIT East Campus and Kendall Square. 
  • Consider a four story building fabric. Study commercial towers over MIT base.  Commerce wants to be identified with MIT.  Avoid circumstance where commercial hides MIT and the campus becomes invisible again.
  • There is an ecology of MIT buildings that is not apparent in the building shapes in the slides.  At MIT, some of the best buildings are those with modularity and interconnectedness.  It is fundamental to research, communications, flexibility, reconstruction and reuse.  East Campus is the last chance for many years and the buildings should reflect connectedness in order to avoid detours.
  • Over time commercial buildings can transition to academic use.
December 12
  • Is there a mix of academic and commercial within buildings?
  • MIT has combined a range of non-academic interface in the proposed development, including industry.  How does MIT plan to maintain its commitment to transparency in research?
  • The coastal condition at the river and storm water management should be studied. 

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December 11
  • Green space at river is important.  Might want to think about crossing Memorial Dr. to allow access to river.
  • East Campus is disconnected from rest of campus.  When bicycling from elsewhere, the campus does not feel bike friendly.  Infinite corridor bisects campus and makes bike access across it difficult.  Two favorite spaces in Boston area are the street wall at Emerson College on Boylston Street in Boston. Students live on street with cafes, etc. below, and it is much more friendly, permeable, and accessible than Main St. The other favorite place is the Plaza space at the Science Center at Harvard.  High utilization, bike friendly, and welcoming.
  • Can Ames Street be added to the discussion?  The Yacht Club and public access to the river are issues that should be addressed by the various institutions. 
December 12
  • Publicly-accessible open space and good neighborhood connections are critical.

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Eastgate site

December 11
  • Eastgate is family graduate housing, is child safe, and has child care — thus it is very important for MIT student families.  It is a critical part of the MIT community.  MIT housing plans should preserve or exceed the quantity and quality of existing housing.  Families are particularly vulnerable.
  • Is there a predetermined objective for Eastgate?  If housing is an important element, why not make it a front and center topic? Housing should be interspersed with other activities.
December 12
  • The idea of removing Eastgate is challenging.  Two hundred units of housing with child care is a great resource. 
  • Housing is a very big issue — market rate housing and student housing.  Activities after 7pm and child care are important considerations. 
  • Can the current transportation system accommodate the pedestrian traffic that will result from the proposed additional developed square footage?

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Read comments from the November community forums:
MIT community forum comments
Cambridge community forum comments

Share your ideas.