MIT Kendall Square Site 5 / Weiss/Manfredi
Text description provided by the architects. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is developing Kendall Square, where the City of Cambridge and MIT merge, to encourage the integration of business and academic research. The Kendall Square area is characterized by a variety of architectural styles, scales, and material palettes. As a key member of a focused design team, Weiss/Manfredi worked closely with MIT to develop an urban plan for the district that was responsive to this context and consistent with MIT’s programmatic goals. Weiss/Manfredi was then chosen to design 314 Main Street, known as MIT’s Site 5, which houses the MIT Press, the MIT Museum, and 12 floors of incubator office and research space.
With Main Street to the north, the MIT campus to the south, and a T subway stop adjacent, the 17-story building creates a strategic gateway between the city and the university. Responding to both the city and the immediate context, the building creates a transition from brick buildings on Main Street to a newly created campus green that will become an important part of MIT’s network of open spaces.
The building engages these contexts and programs through the articulation of its massing and façade. The highly transparent street level is animated by active retail and strategically positioned building and museum lobbies. Above the ground floor, the creation of a floating plinth for the MIT museum establishes an urban scale compatible with adjacent historic buildings. The office tower’s multiple folds and facets improve views and introduce shifting patterns of color depending on orientation and time of day.
In summary, the overall form of the building negotiates multiple scales: it creates a lively presence at street level, at the plinth level it relates to historic adjacent buildings, and at the scale of the tower it offers a striking silhouette against the larger urban horizon.