Perkins&Will - SoMa Site 3 Lab Building, enhancing MIT’s culture of innovation
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SoMa Site 3 Lab Building, enhancing MIT’s culture of innovation


Mixed Use  /  Completed

A five-story mass, relating to the existing historic context and renovation portion of the project, sits below a larger upper mass rotated ninety degrees. This move creates dynamic cantilevers to the north and south that can be experienced from the exterior open space which was simultaneously developed to the south, and a 95’ tall atrium between the addition and the existing building.

The upper volume is placed at the at the eastern end of the base, providing a gateway between green spaces and a large sixth floor terrace relating to the open space below.

The design invites the public into MIT’s campus – ground floor retail on all sides activates the pedestrian experience and helps draw the community along and through the building into the new open space to the south.

By preserving the existing 238 Main Street Building and creating a connector through a five-story glass atrium, the design maintains the pedestrian scale of Kendall Square and offers opportunities for retail spaces.

The upper 6 stories of the building dramatically rotate 90 degrees from the base to provide a gateway to the new public open space and reduce the bulk and shadowing along Main Street to the north. The pivoted mass reveals a recessed 6th floor that creates a living green roof overlooking the open space

The masonry of the 238 building façade is maintained within an atrium between the addition and the existing building to provide warmth and to balance the simplicity and modern language of the addition.

The adaptive reuse of the existing building demonstrates a commitment to the local historic assets as well as a reduction of natural resources needed for built space. To address rising sea levels, the primary electrical and HVAC equipment, including notably the life safety generators and research spaces, are located above locally established safe floor datum. The entire development navigated massive below-grade utilities and structures—like the MBTA Red Line— incorporated resiliency requirements and employed multiple foundation strategies.

The building is LEED Gold and has won awards from the Chicago and New England chapters of the American Institute of Architects.

The building's design reinforces thes scale and character of its neighborhood and maintains the pedcestrian scale of Kendall Square. Ground floor retail activates each side of the buidling to futhur promote the commercial context of Main Street.

The 25,000 sf floorplate responds to market demands and provides flexibility for single or multiple tenants. The lower five-story expression relates to the context of the surrounding earth 20th century brick manufacturing buildings. The upper six stories dramatically rotate 90 degrees to provide a gateway to a new open space, while reducing the bulk and shadowing along Main Street. Between the two masses, a large flexible sixth floor terrace overlooks the open space.

The atrium between the existing building and the addition allows an abundance of natural light with tall glass walls to the east and west, as well as the north-facing clerestory glazing above the Main Street facade. Existing masonry and craft of bright blue venetian plaster walls provide warmth and balance the simplicity and modern lanugage of the addition.

Inspired by a Fibonacci mathematical sequence, dense vertical fins help shade the glass facade and provide a rich texture which balances the scale of the simple double masses. The fins animate the building as experienced from various vantage points, looking more solid or more open depending on the view. The density of the fins varies and relates to the solar exposure and the shadows of neighboring buildings.


 Massachusetts, USA
 451000 mq
 Ralph Johnson & Bryan Schabel – Design Principals Robert Brown – Managing Principal Sandy Smith – Project Manager Matthew Pierce & Justin Wortmann - Project Designers Chis Lockery & Ian Bush – Sr Project Architects Lara Leskaj – Interior Designer Rob Deering, Greg Tamborino, Nick Michelin, Nic Hnastchenko, Andrew Monaghan, Joshua Rathbun, Renzo Caroca – Project Team
 Turner Construction
 Owners Project Manager: RedGate Real Estate Structural Engineer: McNamara Salvia M/E/P: AHA Civil: Nitsch (Sandra Brock) Lighting: LAM Partners Code: Jensen Hughes Exterior Wall: Viadria, Inc. Wind/Wake: RWDI
 Curtainwall – Sotawall Aurora Roman Sales Manager – North America Tel: 905 846 3177 ext.2313 Cell: 416 407 1011 Email: [email protected] Metal Panel – Americlad Allan Rylance Direct: 763-255-3318 Cell: 763-412-9649 [email protected]
 James Steinkamp, Steinkamp Photography


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