Martin Schmidt - MIT presents Kendall Square zoning concepts to Cambridge Planning Board
Planning Board reacts positively; Institute
is prepared to file rezoning petition
December 5, 2012
On Tuesday night, MIT officials presented a preview
of the Institute's rezoning petition for the
redevelopment of Kendall Square to members of the
Cambridge Planning Board, who responded very
The meeting was attended by members of the MIT
administration and faculty. Since this summer, MIT
Provost Chris Kaiser has sought faculty input on
MIT's Kendall Square proposal through a task force
whose report Kaiser made public in October. The
report recommended that MIT file a rezoning petition
— but also that it address faculty concerns about the plans for development.
"It is very important to all of us at MIT involved with plans around Kendall Square — whether we serve on the
faculty or the central administration or work for the MIT Investment Management Company — that we make clear
that our work is by and for our entire community," Kaiser said. "This planning is designed to serve 'One MIT,' as
well as our neighbors in Cambridge."
MIT began its efforts to consider new possibilities for its Kendall Square property in 2010, with broad discussions
within the MIT and Cambridge communities. MIT filed its first rezoning petition in April 2011, but allowed that
petition to lapse later that year because it determined that it would be beneficial to gain further input from a wide
range of stakeholders before proceeding. (Projects of this size often require more than one petition before
As a result of input received from the faculty task force as well as two-and-a-half years of broad input from the
MIT and Cambridge communities, key changes were made to the Institute's original proposal. Here is a summary
of those changes:
- implement a participative conceptual gateway design process that integrates with planning for the rest of
the East Campus area.
- The proposed building for the One Broadway parking lot had been primarily commercial, and now is
primarily residential, plus innovation space.
- As many as 300 units of housing are now proposed for the One Broadway addition, up from 120 units
- Proposed retail space had been centered around the MBTA station area, and now is planned district-wide.
Main Street had been designated as the primary area for vibrant public interaction. Now the Broad Canal,
Point Park with access to the Charles River, and MIT's Infinite Corridor are also featured as enlivenment
- A "Community Living Room" for public cultural and educational programming will now be included in the
- MIT will commit up to $10 million of community benefits through a concept proposed by the K2 Committee,
which was a city-sponsored Kendall Square community-planning effort.
- The Institute will also provide up to $4 million to the City's Affordable Housing Trust through an established housing incentive payment mechanism.
Steve Marsh, Managing Director of Real Estate, opened MIT's presentation by acknowledging the extensive vital
input that has helped the Institute to evolve its thinking about the future of Kendall Square.
"We have benefited greatly from participating in the robust K2 community planning process. Also, the many
opportunities that we have had to present to, and learn from, the Planning Board have helped us to further
enhance our vision."
Marsh turned the presentation over to Associate Provost Martin Schmidt, who described the work and
recommendations of the faculty task force, noting that in addition to implementing a conceptual design process for
a new gateway to the East Campus, the Institute also plans to initiate a planning study to evaluate the Institute's
housing needs, as recommended by the task force.
"We are extremely grateful to the task force for taking on this job," Schmidt told the Planning Board. "They worked
incredibly hard in the summer and through to now. They were provided with all details of the project and met with a
number of people. We are excited about the opportunities that this project offers for MIT and are very optimistic
that with this strong alignment of interests, working collaboratively we can arrive at a plan for Kendall Square that
For the remainder of the presentation, Steve Marsh and David Manfredi of Elkus Manfredi Architects described
the many areas of agreement that have emerged among the various stakeholders. Marsh noted that through
several different processes and studies, similar conclusions have been reached about a host of urban planning
concepts including heights, density, active ground floors, parking, and open space connections.
Manfredi walked through the mechanics of the zoning itself and how the development rights provided to MIT would
be used, if granted.
Planning Board members responded very positively to the presentation.
Chairman Hugh Russell observed, "Here's the question that we have to ask ourselves: is what is going to be
proposed indeed what we want? The answer, in general, is indeed it is." Russell noted that his specific interests
and concerns about topics such as height and shadows will be addressed in the subsequent Article 19 Design
Review process, after the zoning is adopted. Later, Russell offered: "I'm overwhelmed and pleased. A lot has
Steve Marsh closed the MIT presentation by thanking all participants who have contributed to the evolution of the
As recommended by the task force, the Institute now plans to formally file its zoning petition to the City as soon
as possible in order to launch the public review process. Over the coming months, public hearings will be
scheduled before the Planning Board, City Council Ordinance Committee, and the City Council itself, which
ultimately votes on the zoning petition.
If the zoning is passed by the City Council, a separate Planning Board-led design review process will commence
afterwards to review the design of each building as well as the Kendall Square public realm concepts.