East campus/Kendall Square update

July 14, 2014
Martin A. Schmidt, Provost, 2014–2022 |

To the MIT Community:

I am pleased to share the good news that we have reached an important juncture in our planning process for the East Campus and Kendall Square area. Together with President Rafael Reif, Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart, and Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz, I am recommending that MIT advance a proposal that we believe will achieve the vibrancy and integration that is essential for that critical gateway area of the campus.

Convergence of Multiple Processes

Many efforts have brought us to this point. The intensive three-year Kendall Square rezoning process provided us with valuable input from MIT and Cambridge community members about how best to create an innovative and well-balanced mixed-used development on our properties. The Faculty Task Force on Community Engagement in 2030 Planning, led by Sloan School Professor Tom Kochan, analyzed the Kendall Square development proposal and recommended that MIT undertake an East Campus planning study and a review of graduate student housing needs.

In response to the Faculty Task Force recommendations, former Chancellor and Department of Urban Studies and Planning Professor Phillip Clay led the Graduate Student Housing Working Group through a careful review of housing related topics, resulting in a recommendation for new accommodations for 500-600 graduate students. The East Campus/Kendall Gateway urban design study, led by a multi-disciplinary steering committee of faculty, students, and staff, worked with consultants through an intensive exploration of various schemes for the East Campus area, and benefitted from input collected through a series of community forums. Finally, with the leadership of the School of Architecture and Planning, a working group composed of faculty and staff has worked to refine the concepts explored through the East Campus/Kendall Gateway urban design study.

Current Thinking

This illustrative drawing (PDF) conveys an exciting proposed parcel assembly and a potential approach for the creation of connected public open spaces within the development area. As recommended from every quarter, the parcel plan includes space for academic, commercial, and retail uses, as well as housing for graduate students — all contributing to the creation of a diverse and vibrant gateway area. It also envisions underground parking and ensures vehicular access to MIT Medical.

The gateway is framed by spaces for the MIT Museum, an Innovation Space, and a graduate student residence building. This scheme proposes to replace Eastgate with a lab building, but to add graduate housing in a new location at the gateway, along with a new child care facility. We anticipate that the new housing will not only replace the Eastgate housing but add more capacity. The exact amount would be determined in the design process. We would build the new housing first, before repurposing the Eastgate site. As previously communicated, we will also be looking at the West end of campus for additional housing opportunities.

Next Steps

MIT has issued Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for design teams to create building concepts that we will bring through the City’s review process. Our hope is to begin that process in the fall. There will be ample opportunity for continued information sharing and conversation through community meetings and public hearings.

I would be remiss if I didn’t remark on the impressive caliber and breadth of engagement on this topic. I am grateful to the many stakeholders who have brought leadership and vision to this important community dialogue. The upshot is that we have great confidence in our path ahead and know that the future of the Kendall Square/East Campus area is vibrant and brimming with possibility.


Martin A. Schmidt