The evolution of Kendall Square is the story of a once-thriving industrial strip, turned urban wilderness, turned crucible of innovation. Now, it is home to one of the greatest concentrations of innovative companies in the world, particularly in the biotech and high-tech sectors. Fueled by its proximity to MIT, the neighborhood’s connection to the Institute deepened even further in January 2017, when MIT signed an agreement to redevelop the 14-acre parcel of land on the north side of the square, currently home to the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center. MIT has agreed to construct a new federal building on the site and will acquire and develop the balance of the property in ways designed to benefit both MIT’s mission and the Cambridge community.
Meanwhile, south of Main Street, MIT is forging ahead with the Kendall Square Initiative: a bold vision to create a greater sense of place for both the Institute and its neighbors and more seamlessly integrate academic pursuits with industry. Seven years in the making, the plan has broken ground and will continue to gather momentum thanks to current and future supporters. Amid new research and development facilities and retail spaces, five landmarks will stand out on a future walking tour of Kendall Square.
This story was originally published in September 2017.
New residential spaces will give MIT’s growing population of graduate students, including those with families, a campus home at the nexus of academia and industry. The new residence will feature roughly 450 living units; a host of common areas including study spaces, a playroom, and a terrace; and a new childcare center to benefit the entire MIT community.
For 45 years, the MIT Museum has occupied a converted factory on Massachusetts Avenue, from which it has told the story of science and technology through MIT’s unique perspective. A new purpose-designed building will provide 200% more programmatic space for the museum, including galleries, classrooms, and meeting rooms. It will welcome the public as a literal and figurative entranceway to the Institute.
Three acres of new and repurposed open space will invite the MIT and the Cambridge communities to come together and unwind, connect, and discover. Pockets of activity programmed by MIT—such as an interactive art installation, a participative science experiment, or an invention being tested out by students—will draw in passersby and infuse the area with a vibrant energy.
Admissions office and forum
The modernized MIT Admissions Office, housed beneath the graduate tower, will be the new face of the Institute for prospective students. Within the same building, the MIT Forum will provide a flexible pavilion for admissions programming, as well as for a range of presentations from the wider MIT and Cambridge community.
Innovation and entrepreneurship hub
This new hub will house the MIT Innovation Initiative and other key partners in the Institute-wide innovation ecosystem. The top four floors will become open, multiuse spaces for makers and students, researchers and staff—powering the exchange of ideas between the problem solvers of MIT and the broader innovation community of Kendall Square.