MIT community forum November 2013

At an MIT community forum on November 7 attendees 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 Cambridge forum.

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

East campus gateway

  • Relating to Gateway, “I think of sculpture on Massachusetts Avenue, White man of Numbers I love that as a symbol”.
  • All buildings or as many as possible should have glass façade on first floor. So you can see through them to the river and to Boston. They can be filled with classrooms, varied with cafés or random meeting places. Good cafés are a great catalyst.
  • Improve porosity + appeal of throughways
  • Different groups should be considered. East Gateway should not just filter Sloan School but should incorporate west campus.

Social life on Main Street

  • Why is dense population a design goal?
  • Third Street should be used as a precedent. There should be residential on Main St. to make the street feel alive and let it be known that people live there. 
  • Refer to Charles River blueprint and go ahead with RR corridor
  • Acknowledge Main Street connection to Central Square
  • No more Koch galleries! Activate Main St. with real retail and restaurants open late!
  • Whole Foods like on Beacon St.
  • Encourage local non-chain businesses
  • Public lecture space (seconded)
  • Encourage MIT affiliates to live in Cambridge
  • Graduate Housing, MIT affiliate / postdoc/ staff/ junior faculty housing
  • Connect MIT with new development in Kendall - Many students don’t know what exists and where
  • Graduate housing
  • Grocery store in Kendall Square
  • For increased activity in Kendall Square: Theatre (movie or otherwise), parks, restaurants open late.
  • CVS / Walgreens / whatever type store
  • Consider some urban-style (see Chicago's Lakeshore east area) townhouses for university housing of families (3 BR) here.
  • More people need to live here for there to be activity in Kendall Square, at day and night- add graduate student housing.
  • Residential buildings in Kendall Square, otherwise it will look like the financial district.
  • Open Plaza over the T
  • Electronics parts store. There's no retail access to the parts you need to make stuff.
  • No more bakeries/coffee shops. For the 1% we have enough!
  • What is happening to me? (Eastgate) Grocery Store, Bars, after work uses of space.
  • 3rd Street should be used as a precedent. There should be residential on Main St. to make the street feel alive and let it be known that people live there. 
  • Eastgate is used for Grad housing/family housing. Removal is an issue and renovations or replacement would be preferred.
  • First floors of buildings on Main St. should be open, glass and classrooms.
  • 1st floor on Main Street should be the “Maker Spaces”. The buildings should be glass and people walking by would press their noses on the glass and wonder what is going on in there. There should be places on Main St. for “Geek Markets”
  • Landscape on Main St. + Mass Ave should be similar to plaza near fire station. The landscape should feature places for café and congregation. 

Economic viability + labs

  • MIT can earn revenue on commercial rents elsewhere
  • Why must MIT sacrifice its last remaining space on campus in order to make this economically viable?
  • Encourage connections with existing East Campus business owners
  • Affordable housing for Cambridge residents especially families
  • Restaurants, convenience stores and services open late and on weekends
  • Work with Volpe (work on their redevelopment plans) to integrate all these plans and connect these areas for pedestrians
  • Include housing. Any kind in the mix.
  • Healthy + innovative style café.
  • Space for MIT entrepreneurs to connect with industry and other students
  • Open Lab innovation Center- In between I lab, media lab + hobby shop - glass and space for students to innovate. Open to business, too.
  • Innovation center for students, industry and faculty. Allow for community to visit.
  • Appropriate spaces for conference + not have to use the Marriott
  • How is MIT going to differentiate itself from Harvard, Stanford, ETC? Thoughts: Connection with City + Industry (Connection with community) + Allows students to innovate and to be entrepreneurs.

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Balance/connectivity + character

  • Prioritize connecting Sloan with MIT over MIT w/ commerce on Main St.
  • You have shown porosity between the academic + commercial components of the area. A missed opportunity is the connection to the rest of the city. Currently the commercial fabric turns its back to the neighborhoods and does not integrate with it to make a viable community.
  • Integrate neighborhoods, academic and residential.
  • Separate bikeway/ sidewalk along Bridge
  • The Infinite Corridor goes through Buildings 56 + 66, etc. Not through this open space. Why?  Students/faculty have a reason to walk through buildings they work in.
  • Better crosswalks to get to river
  • Pedestrian Plaza to actual Kendall Square
  • Public park
  • Roof gardens. Floor landscaping of buildings and ? Green spaces
  • Recapture 100 Memorial Drive for MIT! Housing?
  • Create public use of green space within Memorial Drive
  • Pedestrian access to the center of Memorial Drive similar to Blackstone Blvd in Providence, Rhode Island.
  • Maintain or exceed housing capacity of Eastgate here or elsewhere nearby
  • Add connectivity in all directions for all modes wherever possible here. No more dead ends.
  • Better pedestrian connection to river from end of Longfellow (runner central!)
  • Winter Garden between building 6 and Alexandria. New winter garden at 350! Binney
  • Greater connection to 3rd St. and Galleria
  • Connections back to the city- the existing + new residential fabric
  • Landscape Infinite Plaza using identifiable pavers (see Cornell)
  • Nice garden/ green connection between Sloan and Main Campus
  • Better flow through MIT Medical/Whitaker College to connect Kendall towards West Campus
  • Improve public access through MIT Medical (an alternative route or 24/7 open doors)
  • Green Ecology infrastructure design throughout
  • Less parking lots near E40/ Medical
  • Connect Sloan with Main campus via line of sight corridor
  • Clark-like Center
  • It is hard to activate a space without having significant housing. Shouldn't we put more in rather than talking or relocating.
  • Remove surface parking lots
  • Integrate neighborhoods, academic and residential.
  • The principles put an emphasis on Sloan School and Main St. but we should connect the overall campus first. East campus is physically and socially disconnected.
  • What other development is happening in the area and on campus and how can and will this effect East Campus redevelopment?
  • We need a grocery store in Kendall Square.

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Fundamental “MIT-ness”

  • You have not defined “MIT-ness”: Innovation, Hands on Research, Transparency
  • East Campus as landscape laboratory, sensors and experiments
  • All first floor public access. No more MIT-ID only access for spaces on Main St.
  • “Hackable” spaces. Somewhere you can put “A police car on the dome”
  • The soul of “MIT-ness” is diversity and serendipity that brings geeks together to create stuff to change the world. So lots of open meeting spaces, tables, green wall-up. Good cafés are a great catalyst.
  • Don’t need to “contribute to the skyline” if it looks like Tang or the Green Building.
  • Teaching space to interact with students from local schools
  • MIT museum, move to Kendall from current hidden location. Perhaps replace current site with graduate housing (ideally located near Shaws)
  • Complement MIT henge (sun shining down Infinite Corridor 2x year: Dec + Jan for 3 days with solar or lunar alignment effects)
  • More group meeting space with big windows - could be reserved by students or community members.
  • Extend the Infinite Corridor
  • More spaces for creative collaboration + event / program / workshops. “Biohacker” spaces. Students can access wet labs to explore side projects. More space for teams/ students across all schools to collaborate, work together, explore ideas. Dedicated work + maker spaces for student teams working on projects
  • Greenhouse
  • Food plants and trees. Indoor and outdoor botanical garden. (Could also be used for biology research.) Outdoor dining near food trucks
  • Need to consider all groups: Undergrad (West campus heavy), Grad, Professor, Researcher, Tourist, Non-MIT workers.
  • “MIT-ness” defined = Infinite Corridor, looking into labs = Porous

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Read comments from the November Cambridge community forum.