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Kendall/MIT Gateway

Building for the Future

Perkins&Will | NADAAA

Kendall/MIT Gateway
By Luca Maria Francesco Fabris -

Underway since 2014, MIT’s 2030 master plan to innovate the university’s real estate continues with the development of a series of individual yet pertinent projects. Recent years have seen building after contemporary building change the urban landscape on the north bank of the Charles River as this world-famous Institute of Technology shows it is also at the forefront of architectural innovation. This revolutionary transformation is also anchored to the existing infrastructure network, like for example, the Boston subway red line – MBTA’s Cambridge-Dorchester Line – one of the oldest in Cambridge-Boston. Built in 1908, the subway has proudly clung to a layout no longer adopted by more recent subway systems, especially in Europe and Asia. Buried literally just under the street, the Cambridge-Dorchester line has no intermediate floor above the tracks to distribute travelers in one of two directions; passengers descend to a single platform for either inbound or outbound trains. If you realize you are on a platform for the wrong direction, you must go back up to street level, cross the road, and take the stairs to the right platform. 

NADAAA was tasked with redesigning one of the Kendall/MIT headhouses – in collaboration with Perkins&Will –, which although revamped in appropriately post-modern style in 1985 by Ellenzweig Moore and Associates, no longer fitted with the new urban landscape being introduced by MIT’s regeneration plan or the new subway traffic and ticketing systems.

A new giant metal structure has turned the subway headhouse into a gateway proper, a symbol of the ongoing changes all around, seamlessly integrating the public space lying between the new university buildings of Kendall Square and holding the different headhouse volumes together. While Nader Tehrani’s practice retained the pre-existing subway platform below, an entirely new concourse with escalator, stairs...

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