MIT North Court and Main Street

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A new quadrangle and high-performance streetscape structure the vital, interconnected relationship between an emerging Cambridge neighborhood of biomedical and tech companies and the academic heart of MIT.

Over a five-year period, we orchestrated an incremental set of transformations to knit the Main Group’s Infinite Corridor to neighboring commercial buildings that are home to health science, pharmaceutical, and high-tech companies. North Court’s promenades and Main Street spaces bring these overlaps to life by completing the Main Group’s matrix of courts and connective paths. The court was conceived as a fully framed, open field condition that supports significant campus rituals while carrying everyday, desire-line paths. The framing edges of the quad became intensively occupied passages—each employing a different character related to connecting points and programmatic adjacencies.

The design language of the passages evokes spatial qualities elsewhere at MIT—oak groves, single and double rows of plane trees and oaks—but with a distinctly urban texture. Where the promenades intersect with Main Street, plazas capture and filter pedestrian and bicycle traffic into the network of campus paths. The project’s corridors and plazas also facilitate service and delivery and integrates the varied outdoor spaces of Frank O. Gehry’s Stata Center, relieving that building’s insistent object status and activating its amphitheater and café entrances. Mark Di Suvero’s Aesop’s Fables II (2005), a permanent part of MIT’s sculpture collection, was repositioned with Di Suvero’s agreement to accentuate the southern edge of the quadrangle and highlight the arrival point at the Infinite Corridor.

Location

Cambridge, MA

Dates

2004-2012

Size

5 acres

Leadership

Team

Recognition

  • Honor Award for University Design, Boston Society of Landscape Architects