MIT Releases East Campus Redevelopment Plans

BOSTON — Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Provost Marty Schmidt recently announced that school officials have progressed on a proposal to rezone the school’s East Campus and Kendall Square parcel in Boston. The redevelopment would add a number of new academic and student life facilities totaling some 800,000 square feet, and is the result of nearly four years of planning and research.

“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,” Schmidt said in a statement. “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.”

MIT’s Faculty Task Force on Community Engagement in 2030 Planning first recommended the university conduct an East Campus planning study, as well as a review of graduate student housing needs, in 2010, Schmidt said. This resulted in a recommendation to create up to 600 new housing units for graduate students.

The Cambridge City Council approved MIT’s petition to transform the 26-acre Kendall Square space, which the university already owns, in April 2013. This prompted the school to commission an urban design study in the fall of 2013 to explore a number of development options and host a series of open forums to glean community feedback. MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning further refined the concepts developed throughout the study.

A rendering of the resulting development proposal shows spaces for the MIT Museum, a number of academic facilities, and retail and office areas. It also envisions underground parking, ensures vehicular access to MIT Medical and would replace the existing Eastgate residence hall with a new laboratory building. While a primary goal of the new development is to increase student housing, higher capacity residence options have been provided elsewhere within the development.

The university has already issued Requests for Proposals seeking building concepts to present to city officials for review. “Our hope is to begin that process in the fall,” Schmidt said in a statement. “There will be ample opportunity for continued information sharing and conversation through community meetings and public hearings.”

The East Campus and Kendall Square project would build on MIT’s recent construction boom, which has resulted in a plethora of new facilities. Between 1998 and 2010, the university renovated 875,000 gross square feet of existing buildings and completed over 2.6 million gross square feet of new construction.