MIT Cambridge forum November 2013

At a community forum on November 14 attendees from the Cambridge community provided the following ideas to be considered for the East Campus Gateway Study. Forum attendees were invited to share comments in an open discussion and by writing notes on a map of the area. The comments have been organized by topic. Also read ideas from the MIT community forum.

East campus gateway | Social life on Main Street | Economic viability + labs | Balance/connectivity + character | Fundamental "MIT-ness"

East campus gateway

  • Help people find MIT from T-stop
  • Redo MBTA Kendall T stop Station head houses.
  • Where is Kendall Square? Is it centered at the T stop?

Social life on Main Street

  • Strongly define Main St. edge with communal uses. -Retail for student & neighborhood use. - Strong cultural uses. -Yes porosity @ lower level.
  • Create retail that will benefit residents of Newtowne Court and Washington Elms.
  • Without more housing there won't be people around at night + weekends.
  • The circumferential transit loop will create a new center at Main and Vassar which should be planned for.
  • Recognize that this is the civic center of Kendall Sq. & make it look like it (Where the earth fountain is now)
  • Activate path from Kendall Square to river
  • MIT should frame this planning “Visionary” process in the context of a major commitment to house 100% of your 6200 graduate students in this area.
  • Promote housing, which was not mentioned at all. People living @ Kendall is critical.
  • It won't be densely populated if no one lives here.
  • MIT needs more housing for grad students, post docs and junior staff. This is a great opportunity.
  • Ground floor retail will only work if there are residents on Main Street
  • Are you thinking of increasing housing on campus? - MIT has a high impact on real estate in Cambridge
  • A great place for a grocery store
  • Need porous edges to Main Street, new public spaces, a movie theatre, fountains, special lighting, housing is important.
  • The intersection of Main and Broadway is the center of Kendall Square
  • The ground floor of Koch is cold and uninviting, this needs to be more of a neighborhood.
  • Changes to Eastgate or 100 Memorial Drive will create tensions with residents.
  • The circumferential transit loop will create a new center at Main and Vassar which should be planned for. 

Economic viability + labs

  • East + Kendall development already having a great impact on land values. Which instruments are you proposing to avoid greater gentrifications.

Balance/connectivity + character

  • Housing diversity. Must include not only affordable housing, middle-income. But also graduate housing.
  • Performing arts facilities with “Back Stage” workshops
  • Extensive (Electric) bus hub should be integrated. Complete rethink / rebuild of redline station.
  • Work and support MBTA efforts to expand + improve red line service
  • Need a garage green space for campus and public
  • I love the food trucks. We need a nicer space to eat near them (Green space)
  • Consider a complete rotary here (Keep trees for wind buffer + keep sculpture)
  • Storm water management strategies across campus (Use of green infrastructure)
  • Tree canopy enhancement + other "Green street" retrofits along existing streets.
  • Get in touch with Joe Davis, MIT-affiliated artist who did the globe sculpture at “Point Park”
  • Extension of the Broad canal into campus (Idea of water connections providing way finding).
  • Interface of east campus study area with the “Sub watershed boundary” of the Charles River.
  • Can Broad River canal be a skating rink in winter?
  • Integration of open space connections through campus with underground storm water infrastructure
  • Create clear bike rack lanes, particularly along river.
  • Compliance with the nutrient TMDL for the Charles River (Reduction of Phosphorous).
  • New construction net zero emissions
  • Must this plan remain tied to existing street grid? The river edge presents a geographic opportunity that should be recognized. South light & views - ideal for residential uses. Existing blocks “Fat” Buildings to deep to daylight.
  • Revitalization of Memorial Drive, conversion of open space/ median into a working landscape.
  • Replace median and replace with public space (Mem Drive)
  • Open Space/ landscape connections to the Charles river.
  • Creating a rest-full sense of place with at mid-point with major spray fountain would make the area a destination.
  • How will MIT use the results of the Barry Bluestone / Dukakis center study on the uses of student villages to alleviate grad student pressures on affordable housing for the non-plutocrat?
  • Ground floor retail - grocery store in particular - require residents to support it. This plan should include housing - more than proposed.
  • Realization of these principles through “Water Centric” planning and design. (landscape focus)
  • Need more Cambridge flavor to balance the business and academic character
  • Need more input from Area 4 and Washington Elms
  • Housing will knit all this together
  • Partnerships are key. Connections to the Charles River, rethinking infrastructure, improving access. The Yacht Club should be moved.
  • More development will mean more cars. We should look to reduce roadways and cars.
  • Create a sanctuary, trees are important.

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Fundamental “MIT-ness”

  • Must highlight MIT’s unique successes. -Main St. kiosks. -Highlight famous leaders in high-tech way.
  • Underground weather-proof building connections
  • More interactive technology for public
  • The City of Cambridge has been counting on a property tax bonanza to fund its ever increasing budget. How does this plan deal with the effect of actual educational, i.e., tax exempt future uses of the campus?
  • Net Zero
  • The true “MIT-ness” is figuring out big ideas and solutions.
  • The MIT Press book store is great, the building is NOT!

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Read comments from the November MIT community forum.