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"MIT Site 4" Multifunctional Complex

The Elegant Balance of Form and Technology

NADAAA

"MIT Site 4" Multifunctional Complex

Located across the River Charles from Boston, the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, has recently been in the grip of a building boom triggered by its prestigious universities. This testifies to what can be described as institutional American architecture reaching maturity after taking on board many of the lessons coming from Europe and embracing issues ranging from restoration and adaptive use to energy efficiency, social sustainability, and innovative building materials. An example of this new approach is the recently inaugurated graduate student housing - this perhaps an inadequate term - at the Cambridge Gateway. Designed by NADAAA and Perkins+Will, the university building stands at the top of the huge triangle occupied by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology between Main Street and Memorial Drive.

Practically opposite Kendall Square, the 29-story, 100-m high building - now the highest in Cambridge - is part of a new multi-use complex that acts as the eastern “gateway” into the campus. Part of a wider urban regeneration project, the planned urban development has englobed a series of old buildings and parking areas to create residential, academic, research and retail spaces over six buildings as well as a swathe of interconnected external areas for a total of 167,000 sq. m.

The historic buildings included in the project’s large precinct were retained, given new dignity, and put to new use. In compliance with this private university’s general development plan, the permeability of the new complex was another must. Accordingly, public, semi-public and private spaces are linked seamlessly, making the area not just an amenity for the academic community but also for residents around Kendall Square.

The opportunities the project offered were put to excellent use by the compositional brilliance and technological know-how of Nader Tehrani, founder of the Boston-based architecture firm NADAAA, and former...

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