MIT community forum February 2014

At an MIT community forum in February 2014, 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 and December 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 February presentation]

East campus gateway | Mix of uses | Connections | Proposed schemes | Other

East campus gateway

  • Consider putting the MBTA headhouse in one of the buildings
  • Cambridge Trust site concept feels too big
  • Park area not defined enough so it seems too large
  • Pleased that the team put so much emphasis on open space.
  • Would like to see Kendall Square more active 7 days per week – not just during the work week.
  • Ames and Wadsworth streets should get some attention in the linkage of East Campus to the City and the river.  Public ways should be used to create those connections rather than private property.
  • Should look at all the massing options from the perspective of the Longfellow Bridge since it creates a gateway in that location

Mix of uses

  • Interested in seeing a variety of retail opportunities, not just outdoor cafes.
  • Interested in a large retail opportunity like a grocery store or CVS type of business
  • Would like to see more housing, including graduate student housing, in the schemes, perhaps with an outdoor area for children. 
  • The retail and housing should be mixed.
  • Need more information about the number of housing units proposed in the East Campus area. The Graduate Student Housing Study should be integrated into the plan.
  • Commercial development next to Sloan might generate money to fund the graduate housing because of the premium associated with being adjacent to Sloan.
  • Housing should be constructed as soon as possible.
  • There can be a conflict between creating a busy lively place and having a lot of housing.  People like more quiet where they live and study.
  • Should add the commitment to housing as Principle #6.
  • Parking and servicing needs must be addressed.
  • Should add principles that address the future academic campus


  • Not sure that moving the streets around creates better opportunities
  • Pedestrian improvements are needed to connect across Main Street and Broadway.

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Proposed schemes

  • Scheme A has the best open space but am concerned about how the space is removed from Main Street
  • Scheme B is best but not sure about a commercial building at Sloan
  • Scheme C has too much density on the right side of the map.  Needs to connect to Third Street.  Need to balance the tall buildings along the streets.  E38 is a nice building scale but the new narrow building concept does not enhance the area’s urban design.
  • Scheme B has a lot of merits but should narrow some of the openings for a better commercial environment.  Be sure to study the wind that would be created by these new buildings.
  • It might be a challenge to meet ADA requirements with the landscape proposed in Scheme C
  • Scheme B has the best sunlight which is important in creating a great outdoor space
  • Prefer option C because it sites commercial buildings at the perimeter.
  • The original 1960s plan included 400 additional units of housing next to Eastgate.
  • Schemes A and C are good.
  • Goals and uses for open space should be identified: students, public, tourists, weekend visitors

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  • Looking forward to the next opportunity for input
  • Creating hand drawn elevations in the next step could help define the character of the proposed development
  • With climate change pressures, need to develop thinking on resilience and this area of the City.
  • Please involve the Eastgate community in any dialogue about the future of the building.
  • Eastgate should have its deferred maintenance needs addressed.
  • Bring the Volpe Transportation Center to the MIT campus and purchase the Volpe land from the government for the development of commercial buildings

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Read comments and presentations from the November and December forums.