Volpe Transportation Center Development | Kendall Sq | Cambridge

odurandina

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"
This is hot.
Adequate, clever, marginally handsome cladding supportive of scientific work.
In a land of bland boxes, more NYCish, or SF/Chicago/ Miami slender would be "hotter."
The massing reflects the clients desired floorplan/s, so Boston/Cambridge gets another box (sigh).
OK we're not Pittburgh.
But, in the land of diminished expectations, perhaps they can work with MIT
to design a properly working subway car .....and someone nearby can build them.
 
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whighlander

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"
Adequate, clever, marginally handsome cladding supportive of scientific work.
In a land of bland boxes, more NYCish, or SF/Chicago/ Miami slender would be "hotter."
The massing reflects the clients desired floorplan/s, so Boston/Cambridge gets another box (sigh).
OK we're not Pittburgh.
But, in the land of diminished expectations, perhaps they can work with MIT
to design a properly working subway car .....and someone nearby can build them.
Odurandia -- the footprint needs to be large to support the mission -- this is not a box filled with paper shufflers or the modern equivalent there-of
By the way the mission is not really much to do with things like designing a working subway car its a whole lot more like -- defining how a subway should be structured for maximum efficiency, safety and reliability*1 However, if you look at the list of client/sponsors you will find the MBTA as well as Mass DOT

*1
from the Volpe website
The Volpe Center is cost reimbursable, receives no direct appropriations, and is 100 percent funded by sponsored projects. Nearly 90 percent of our work is sponsored by U.S. DOT partners.

Our mandate to support the transportation enterprise is broad, and remaining projects are sponsored by state and local governments, private sector entities, and other federal agencies.

We’ve dedicated our careers to building a better transportation system and are proud to support those who keep America moving, including the following agencies:

U.S. Department of Transportation
  • Federal Aviation Administration
  • Federal Highway Administration
  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
  • Federal Railroad Administration
  • Federal Transit Administration
  • Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office
  • Maritime Administration
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Office of the Secretary of Transportation
  • Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
  • Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation
Federal Agencies
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of the Interior
  • Millennium Challenge Corporation
  • NASA
Non-Federal Government Agencies
  • Cities of New York and Colorado Springs
  • Florida and Massachusetts DOTs
  • Manchester-Boston Regional Airport
  • Maryland State Highway Administration
  • Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
  • Orange County Transportation Authority
  • San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
  • Washington Metro Area Transit Authority
  • State of New Mexico
Academia
  • State of Arizona
  • University of Florida
  • University of Wisconsin
Non-Profit
  • American Concrete Paving Association
  • National Academy of Sciences
  • National Motor Freight Traffic Association
  • Wright State Applied Research Corporation
Private Sector
  • Applied Physical Science
  • BNSF Railway
  • Columbia River Pilots
  • Gannet Fleming, Inc.
  • General Motors
  • Illingworth and Rodkin, Inc.
  • Landrum and Brown, Inc.
  • Resource Systems Group Inc.
  • Tetra Tech, Inc.
  • Wyle Laboratories, Inc.
  • Zamurs and Associates, LLC
International
  • Bayanat Airport Engineering & Supplies
  • Defence Science and Technology Laboratory
  • International Civil Aviation Organization
  • United Kingdom Ministry of Defence
  • The World Bank
 

odurandina

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Meet the new suburban office park, same as the old suburban office park.
1.5 seconds prior to reading your post--i'm like, 'this is what the fuss is all about?'
Outside of aB--It's 250' of who gives a fuck.
 
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king_vibe

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This is a federal building and requires standoff distance from public roads so that truck bombs cannot be delivered.
 

JumboBuc

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This is a federal building and requires standoff distance from public roads so that truck bombs cannot be delivered.
We've been over this 10 thousand times. Even putting aside whether or not the "truck bomb requirement" makes any sense in the twenty-first century, there are good ways to design setbacks and their are bad ways to design setbacks. The GSA acknowledges this. A setback can be impenetrable to vehicles but still be welcoming, functional space for the public.

Every render here looks pretty damn awful.
 
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BostonUrbEx

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ISIS can't wait to take out some FRA inspectors and federal traffic engineers. Those are high priority targets that would absolutely devastate the economy, much more than taking out a completely unprotected major transit node or key junction in the power grid or a whole litany of other ideas.

It is a terrible fucking policy, poorly acted upon, and it should be shit on endlessly. (n)
 

DZH22

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^^^I sure hope it comes out looking better than THAT. Too suburban looking, most of the buildings are the exact same height (as everything else in Kendall), and the one taller building is half as tall as they could have mustered here (albeit on a different parcel of the site) with an underwhelming design. Does anybody actually think this looks good? Does anybody think Kendall is reaching even half of its visual or urban potential? I just don't get why they play it so damn safe over here. No shadow on the park crap, lowrise area is still blocks away, and FAA has large swaths of Kendall capable of 1000' and the rest of at least 500'. It's like they're emulating the Seaport WHEN THEY DON'T HAVE TO BE!

Nobody around here seems to have any guts or imagination. At least, not the developers and certainly not the people in charge of developing Cambridge! North Point is even worse, right next to the highway, full area in the 1000' FAA zone, and held to 250' or less for every box stump. Are only blind people allowed to be decision-makers regarding development in the Boston metro? Another stunning waste of a golden opportunity. WHAT. A. JOKE.
 

statler

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ISIS can't wait to take out some FRA inspectors and federal traffic engineers. Those are high priority targets that would absolutely devastate the economy, much more than taking out a completely unprotected major transit node or key junction in the power grid or a whole litany of other ideas.

It is a terrible fucking policy, poorly acted upon, and it should be shit on endlessly. (n)
I agree that it is mostly nonsense security theater but I think they are more worried a Billy Bob getting pissed at them liberals in Cambridge, Massachusetts curtailing his FREEDOM by telling him he can't drive his coal-rolling F-250 faster than 65 on highways. Afterall, there is a bit of precedent of attacks from those so ideologicaly inclined.
 

king_vibe

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I agree that it is mostly nonsense security theater but I think they are more worried a Billy Bob getting pissed at them liberals in Cambridge, Massachusetts curtailing his FREEDOM by telling him he can't drive his coal-rolling F-250 faster than 65 on highways. Afterall, there is a bit of precedent of attacks from those so ideologicaly inclined.
It's almost exactly the opposite of theater. It's a really simple security measure that works and is routinely implemented worldwide.
 

odurandina

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I agree that it is mostly nonsense security theater but I think they are more worried a Billy Bob getting pissed at them liberals in Cambridge, Massachusetts curtailing his FREEDOM by telling him he can't drive his coal-rolling F-250 faster than 65 on highways. Afterall, there is a bit of precedent of attacks from those so ideologicaly inclined.
not sure if serious.
 

stefal

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Nobody around here seems to have any guts or imagination. At least, not the developers and certainly not the people in charge of developing Cambridge! Are only blind people allowed to be decision-makers regarding development in the Boston metro? Another stunning waste of a golden opportunity. WHAT. A. JOKE.
$$
Why spend money on flashy architecture if you're being told to make XX% return? In that case, the developer is doing everything they can to maximize the return, and the architect has to listen, or else they're out of a (usually already low) paycheck. Sometimes that means not building ultra-tall. A lot/most of the time that means dropping creativity and the associated high maintenance and operating costs in favor of safe, drab, and dull architecture. We've been over it a few times on here, but a good architect/designer is able to play with these constraints and still make something beautiful and daring, but they seem to be a dying breed, at least in Boston lately.

That being said, SOM is not a low-cost architecture firm and I'm sure the materials and quality of design on this project will be top-notch. I'm saddened to see they didn't get creative with the landscaping, as a lot of recent federal institutions and buildings have gotten pretty good at blending in and hiding the security measures. Is there a landscape architecture firm that was contracted or was it SOM themselves?
 

DZH22

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$$
Why spend money on flashy architecture if you're being told to make XX% return? In that case, the developer is doing everything they can to maximize the return, and the architect has to listen, or else they're out of a (usually already low) paycheck. Sometimes that means not building ultra-tall. A lot/most of the time that means dropping creativity and the associated high maintenance and operating costs in favor of safe, drab, and dull architecture. We've been over it a few times on here, but a good architect/designer is able to play with these constraints and still make something beautiful and daring, but they seem to be a dying breed, at least in Boston lately.

That being said, SOM is not a low-cost architecture firm and I'm sure the materials and quality of design on this project will be top-notch. I'm saddened to see they didn't get creative with the landscaping, as a lot of recent federal institutions and buildings have gotten pretty good at blending in and hiding the security measures. Is there a landscape architecture firm that was contracted or was it SOM themselves?
In this case I'm complaining more about the whole complex and not so much about the SOM Volpe building. The rest of the complex is where opportunity will likely turn to "what might have been" disappointment.
 

stefal

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In this case I'm complaining more about the whole complex and not so much about the SOM Volpe building. The rest of the complex is where opportunity will likely turn to "what might have been" disappointment.
Yeah, I'm concerned about the rest of the development as well. Holding out hope that MIT recognizes the value of good architecture (they have a whole research team dedicated toward just that at SA+P) but we'll see...
 

JeffDowntown

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^^^I sure hope it comes out looking better than THAT. Too suburban looking, most of the buildings are the exact same height (as everything else in Kendall), and the one taller building is half as tall as they could have mustered here (albeit on a different parcel of the site) with an underwhelming design. Does anybody actually think this looks good? Does anybody think Kendall is reaching even half of its visual or urban potential? I just don't get why they play it so damn safe over here. No shadow on the park crap, lowrise area is still blocks away, and FAA has large swaths of Kendall capable of 1000' and the rest of at least 500'. It's like they're emulating the Seaport WHEN THEY DON'T HAVE TO BE!

Nobody around here seems to have any guts or imagination. At least, not the developers and certainly not the people in charge of developing Cambridge! North Point is even worse, right next to the highway, full area in the 1000' FAA zone, and held to 250' or less for every box stump. Are only blind people allowed to be decision-makers regarding development in the Boston metro? Another stunning waste of a golden opportunity. WHAT. A. JOKE.
It is important to remember that a lot of Kendall is life sciences lab space. Practical considerations for the huge ventilation requirements tend to cap the practical/profitable height of those buildings.
 

DZH22

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It is important to remember that a lot of Kendall is life sciences lab space. Practical considerations for the huge ventilation requirements tend to cap the practical/profitable height of those buildings.
Yes, but what about the residential being mixed into the complex, and into Kendall in general? It seems like it is all arbitrarily cut right around or just before 300'. I recognize that there is 250' (plus allowable mech) zoning, but that is a failure of the zoning!
 

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