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Kendall MIT Gateway


Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

July 2023


Nader Tehrani (Principal), Katherine Faulkner (Principal)


Robert Brown (Principal in Charge), Sandy Smith (Project Manager)




John Horner


The objectives are threefold: regional, programmatic, and symbolic. From a regional perspective, the Red Line connects Alewife Station to Quincy Station with the Kendall Station T stop as a key connection to Cambridge, approximately at its center. In part, the agenda was to create a connection between the region and the MIT campus, translating an infrastructural problem into an architectural threshold. While this involved bringing many regional communities together through a common infrastructure, it also involved reckoning with the existing conditions of the site—which defied easy navigation. This necessitated a station compliant with current codes and programs including a new staircase, escalator, and elevator, each with their own headhouse. While a successful provision of these programs might have achieved the functional needs of the MBTA, they did not satisfy the civic mandates of MIT and the Cambridge community to create a public space. Thus, part of this challenge revolved around the introduction of a monumental scale that fulfilled symbolic functions at the scale of the urban gateway, which was one block deep. The length of the canopy responds to the promenade necessitated by the depth of this block.
The gateway is meant to create a sense of arrival for visitors to Kendall Square and MIT; orienting pedestrians as they come up from the subway, marking a welcoming public space, and orienting visitors to the new Open Space, MIT Admissions, and the MIT Museum.


The argument of this project can be situated between its urban and architectural context. The urban context is defined by Main Street which delineates the threshold between Cambridge and MIT communities. The larger project entailed a respect for the historic buildings of Main Street while introducing new civic structures that enhanced connectivity between the community and Charles River. One of the main challenges of the context involved the infrastructure of the Red Line, with the Kendall Square T stop located directly under the site. Allowing the station to function seamlessly during construction also contributed to the design strategy.
The architectural context, thus, involved the repurposing of existing underground structures that served the Red Line station. The subway environment also necessitated an overhaul of accessibility issues with ample stairs, escalators and elevators. These resulted in headhouses that speak to existing design standards as mandated by the MBTA. In tandem, the above ground environment is now defined by high-rise buildings which have surged beyond human scale, and part of the challenge was to provide a mediating scale in the form of a civic threshold: a gateway monumental from the human standpoint while still diminutive from the perspective of the new urban context.
Ultimately, this project involves a translation of an infrastructural context into an architectural one, adopting urban design techniques to create habitable spaces that bring two communities together.


The performance of this project can be defined as much by its construction process as its results. The construction process required that the station remained open throughout construction. Thus, the introduction of a new concourse and headhouses could not interfere with the existing subway lines. This resulted in a targeted demolition of certain areas and the surgical implantation of new elements to create a seamless concourse that acknowledged an equally seamless logistical approach to its construction. As such, the headhouses are strategically located with a staircase pointing north towards Main Street, an escalator pointing south towards the MIT Open Space and an elevator headhouse that mediated between the two. The headhouses are composed to allow safe visual corridors above ground and an architectural promenade enhanced by the still life of these three objects afloat. The redundancy of its columns performs an urban acupuncture, resting on key locations corresponding to the subway infrastructure below while allowing the repetition of structure to create a moment frame without the necessity of lateral bracing.

100% of the site’s rainwater is integrated into the campus' stormwater management system. The headhouses are shielded from the elements by the canopy above, reducing cooling costs in the summer and facilitating natural ventilation and cooling of the concourse. The existing sub-grade structure was reused to minimize impacts to service and reduce material usage.

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