Campus Planning / Kendall Update and Community Meetings

April 14, 2015

To the members of the MIT community,

We write to tell you about exciting developments in MIT's Kendall Square and east campus design process, the planning study for west campus, and key steps we are taking regarding housing for our graduate and undergraduate students.

In pursuing these opportunities, we have benefited tremendously from five years of substantive input and analysis from the Cambridge and MIT communities. This has included an extensive public process, the Task Force on Community Engagement in 2030 Planning report, the Graduate Student Housing Working Group report, the East Campus/Kendall Gateway Urban Design Study with guidance of the East Campus Steering Committee, and key leadership from the School of Architecture and Planning. We will continue this path of engagement, ensuring significant faculty and student involvement in the working groups discussed below. We are also creating opportunities for the community to offer input to the process in the coming months.

Next steps in the design process for Kendall/east campus

In our September 23 communication, we described the process for selecting the Kendall/east campus architectural firms and announced the teams designated to design the individual buildings in the development area. Recognizing the value provided in the past, we have re-launched the East Campus Steering Committee and are continuing to rely on the expertise of School of Architecture and Planning faculty, as well as the vital input of student representatives. The newly-formed faculty Committee on Campus Planning has been briefed on the overall vision for the MIT campus, as well as the plans for Kendall/east campus, and we are committed to collaborating closely with the Committee to ensure that our shared visions for the campus are being realized.

The planning team has been focused on increasing the vitality of the Kendall/east campus area, by incorporating the diverse uses that have been recommended by all sectors of the MIT and Cambridge communities — housing, connected open spaces, retail, innovation space, childcare, and commercial space. The plan also identifies a prominent location for the MIT Museum and assures the incorporation of elements that reflect the essence of MIT in the gateway area.

The site plan below shows the proposed uses for the various parcels. Details regarding precise configurations, square footage, height, and number of housing units are still being examined as the design process proceeds, and will be shared at a community meeting when available. The plan will reflect the approved zoning for the district, and we believe this plan will serve to propel the area towards the objective of creating a vibrant mixed-used center with a captivating gateway to the MIT campus while preserving capacity for future academic uses.

Map of the proposed Kendall Square - East Campus updates

Thanks to the engagement of the Cambridge and MIT communities and the recommendations from the Graduate Student Housing Working Group, we now have an enhanced understanding and a robust plan for housing. Graduate student housing is designated at site O, and we are committed to completing new housing prior to replacing Eastgate Apartments. Site O has the capacity to replace all of the housing in Eastgate (201 units), and provide approximately 270 additional units of graduate housing. Residential housing is planned for Site L on the north side of Main Street, with a mix of affordable, innovation and market rate units. We believe that the presence of new housing together with significantly expanded retail spaces and improved public space will play an integral role in enhancing the liveliness of the area, and opportunities for additional graduate student housing are also being explored in the west campus area.

We look forward to sharing proposed building designs for Kendall/east campus at initial community meetings on May 6th (details below). Once we have had the opportunity to collect broad feedback, we will submit design schemes to the Cambridge Planning Board for its public hearing and review process.

Unlocking the west campus potential

Over the past few months we have initiated a formal planning process for the west and northwest areas of campus. The intent of the current study is to create a long–range development framework to accommodate future academic and residential uses on the MIT campus west of Massachusetts Avenue to complement east campus design efforts and the ongoing renewal of the main campus. We have also formed the West Campus Steering Committee to provide input as the west campus study team works to identify sites to accommodate potential new building initiatives, including undergraduate and graduate housing. Student representation on the Steering Committee is key to the west campus study.

Similar to the east campus plan, there is great interest in enhancing the west campus area in order to bring more vibrancy to MIT's main entrance. A temporary open space landscape will be created on the site of Bexley Hall, and a series of open spaces and walkways are being envisioned as part of the overall west campus design framework. We are working to understand development capacity and the urban design opportunities this capacity holds for the future of west campus.

A critical part of MIT's campus renewal program is the renovation of some of our undergraduate residence halls. We are working on strategies to sequence the renewal of the residences, and are considering opportunities to add to our housing capacity to enable renovation of the residence halls. In the context of the west campus planning study, we are evaluating the possibility of developing the Metropolitan Storage Warehouse as an exciting site for a mixed-use development. It could possibly include undergraduate residences, maker space on the first floor, collaborative spaces on the top level, and retail along Massachusetts Avenue and Vassar Street. The Metropolitan Warehouse Advisory Group, being led by the Offices of the Associate Provost for Space Planning and Campus Planning, also includes students and a wide cross-section of the MIT community.

We are also studying additional sites to accommodate new housing for graduate students and opportunities to renovate the graduate residences in west campus. We have accepted the recommendation of the Graduate Student Housing Working Group, which identified the need to provide housing to accommodate an additional 500-600 graduate students beyond what is currently available, and will work toward achieving this target over time with developments in both the east and west campus areas.

Share your thoughts

These two processes in the Kendall/east campus area and now in the west campus area have been shaped in great measure by the steady commitment and energetic involvement of many members of the MIT and Cambridge communities. Over these past few years, we have learned a great deal about what is important to various sectors of our community, and believe that the Kendall/east campus plan now holistically reflects our shared values. This learning process has led us to approach the west campus planning effort in a very similar fashion. As is our practice, there will be many opportunities for information sharing and the solicitation of input as we proceed.

In the meantime, we encourage you to share your thoughts on either of these processes by sending email to mit2030info@mit.edu. Thank you for your past and future involvement as we work to shape our campus to reflect MIT's spirit of innovation and collaboration.

Sincerely,

Cynthia Barnhart, Chancellor
Martin A. Schmidt, Provost
Israel Ruiz, Executive Vice-President and Treasurer

Community Meetings 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015 / Noon – 2:00 PM
MIT Student Center, W20 Room 491

Wednesday, May 6, 2015 / 6:00 – 8:00 PM
Kendall Marriott at 50 Broadway