Volpe Transportation Center Development | Kendall Sq | Cambridge

Hubman

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I wish they would commit to building an actual street grid with dense blocks instead of identical little office towers plopped in identical tiny parks.
Also, not to be that guy but they could do so much better with height here.
 

meddlepal

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I wish they would commit to building an actual street grid with dense blocks instead of identical little office towers plopped in identical tiny parks.
Also, not to be that guy but they could do so much better with height here.
Le Corbusier is alive and well in Cambridge.
 

whighlander

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Both Meddelpal and Hubman -- need to do more homework before just commenting

for example here's what was said in part at the recent Ground Breaking for the new Volpe


U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao Celebrates Groundbreaking of New John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
Innovative Land Swap Includes GSA, MIT, City of Cambridge
CAMBRIDGE, MA – U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao today celebrated the official groundbreaking of the new U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) John A. Volpe Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.......


The Volpe Center currently occupies approximately 14 acres of land in the Kendall Square section of the city. Following the conclusion of a two-phase solicitation process, GSA entered into an Exchange Agreement with MIT, which will pay $750 million to design and construct a state-of-the-art-facility for Volpe on approximately four acres. In exchange, the portion of the property no longer needed by the federal government will be conveyed to MIT for mixed-use development.

“GSA is proud to provide our partners at the Department of Transportation with this impressive facility that serves USDOT’s vital mission of providing the US the safest, most efficient, and modern transportation system in the world, while saving hundreds of millions of dollars for taxpayers,” said GSA Administrator Emily Murphy. "GSA’s innovative real estate solution converts an underused and outdated asset into a state of the art research facility and an economic engine for the community."

The new facility will replace Volpe’s six existing buildings and surface parking lots with an energy efficient structure accompanied by underground parking and approximately 100 bicycle parking spaces. The new facility will meet LEED Gold v.4 standards, focusing on sustainability....

As part of the federal government’s Art in Architecture program, which commissions artworks for new buildings nationwide, the new building will feature an art piece designed by Maya Lin integrated into the landscape on the east side of the site, adjacent to Fifth Street.
and comments from MIT http://news.mit.edu/2019/john-volpe-transportations-systems-design-0205
First step on Volpe parcel planned for 2019
Building and landscape designs for new federal building are now complete.
MIT News Office
February 5, 2019

Although the project is not subject to local review, the design of the new 212-foot-tall center was subject to the federal government’s rigorous review process as part of the GSA Design Excellence Program. This process also considered design guidelines recommended by the City of Cambridge, included peer reviews, and ultimately was approved by the GSA’s regional chief architect and the chief architect of the U.S.

MIT Managing Director of Real Estate Steve Marsh says: “This is a very complex project that is being executed on behalf of the United States government. The collaboration with the federal government has gone very well, and we are pleased with the outcome of the building and landscape design processes. I believe that the new U.S. DOT Volpe Center will be a welcome and vibrant addition to the broader Kendall Square community.”

Inviting and engaging public spaces, including seating areas and walkways, will surround the federal headquarters. A primary goal of the public space is to bring the East Cambridge neighborhood and Kendall Square community together through a new north-south connection. The development of this currently inaccessible site, which comprises predominantly asphalt surface parking, will promote access to and from the residential neighborhood, the Charles River, the MBTA, and the many retail and restaurant offerings in Kendall Square.

In order to achieve this sense of openness and connectivity, the GSA and MIT engaged artist Maya Lin, known for her large-scale, site-specific outdoor earthworks, in coordination with landscape architecture firm Reed Hilderbrand, to create an engaging and inviting public landscape. Central to the open space will be Lin’s landscape-integrated art piece — a physical and visual representation of the Doppler effect, manifested in undulating grassy mounds that depict sound waves.

The incorporation of a Maya Lin art piece within the site is part of the Federal government’s Art in Architecture program which commissions artworks for new buildings nationwide.

Since the outset of the project, the GSA has been focused on constructing a headquarters that is inviting and reflects the context of the site’s surroundings. GSA Regional Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service Glenn Rotondo says: “We are committed to creating a public realm that is well-integrated within the community.”

Once completed, the new U.S. DOT Volpe development will include primarily below-grade vehicular parking and ample bicycle parking. In addition, over 100 new diverse native-species trees will be installed using current best practices in planting, and an extensive landscaping program will be available for the public to enjoy. Even though the federal government is exempt from Cambridge’s local tree ordinance, the tree replacement plan is designed to materially exceed the current local requirements for large projects. To prepare the site for construction, 21 private trees will be removed that are within the building’s footprint or security perimeter. Twenty of those trees are Norway Maples, an invasive species that Massachusetts prohibits from being sold, planted, or propagated. In addition, two street trees will need to be relocated or replaced to accommodate a curb cut required by the project.


accessible from the Volpe Project web site


MIT aims to create a dynamic mixed-use center in Kendall Square through this historic opportunity to redevelop the Volpe parcel. The Institute will build on the Cambridge community’s extensive urban planning and visioning efforts to advance a plan that connects the neighborhood with new open space, pedestrian links, housing, retail, and science and innovation space.
What you see as park for the most part are streets [well a couple will only be for bikes and pedestrians] and there is a definite grid as much as there was in the days of American Biltright Rubber, Boston Woven Hose, and Kendall Boiler and Tank Co.

Perhaps there is too much greenery - -and perhaps some of that will not actually happen in the final version -- as only the SOM designed Volpe building and its surrounding landscaping [mandated by the GSA for security] is really "set in concrete"

 

Brookline-ish

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I'm really confused by this angle. Is that modern building in the background with the orange stripe a Biogen building (225 Binney)? If so, that would make the double-yellow road 5th Street, which is not currently connected to Binney. Are they reestablishing the street grid? I hadn't heard this - sort of looks like it from this image.
 

stellarfun

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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.
The standard for protecting Federal buildings emanated from the Murrah building in Oklahoma City, which was about as symbolic as the O'Neill building in Boston. Post Murrah, NO ONE in GSA is going to determine that a Federal building doesn't need protection against terrorist (domestic or foreign) acts.

If one thinks there is too much 'green space', an alternative, as used for DOT HQ, is to simply block off a street with bollards.
 

whighlander

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I'm really confused by this angle. Is that modern building in the background with the orange stripe a Biogen building (225 Binney)? If so, that would make the double-yellow road 5th Street, which is not currently connected to Binney. Are they reestablishing the street grid? I hadn't heard this - sort of looks like it from this image.
In general the Street grid will be [re-] established or connected to what exists beyond the immediate Kendall Sq.
There are some exceptions where the existing Kendall Sq had converted several former streets to pedestrian / bike paths -- these will stay car-free
The current Volpe as an amorphous blob of land with a mixed bag of buildings will disappear as soon as the New Volpe is occupied and running.
 

Equilibria

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Le Corbusier is alive and well in Cambridge.
And the irony is Cambridge's alleged commitment to "smart urbanism"
Can you name one other new building in Kendall Square that has a green buffer? I can't - the MIT buildings have a lawn over the parking garage behind them, but that's basically a campus quad. The Main Street side of those buildings, 145 Broadway, Proto, everything down by the Broad Canal... no lawns. No parks. Streetwall and first-floor retail.

Also, again, the City of Cambridge had no say in the design of anything on this property. It's a Federal GSA project. They answer to Trump and no one.
 

whighlander

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And the irony is Cambridge's alleged commitment to "smart urbanism"
Hubman -- The Volpe project really has nothing in common with Le Corbusier -- the New Volpe building for the Feds is spec-ed by the Feds [set backs, access, blast-resistant construction, hidden protections in the landscape, etc.]

Go look at how the Federal Reserve Bank building got re-landscaped -- hidden amongst the flowers are barriers designed to stop a speeding truck in its tracks.

from
Nov 26, 2018
NO RESERVATIONS
How a bank’s defensible perimeter embraces a public plaza
by Robert J. Adams ASLA
Federal Resreave Bank 2006AG 34 010

The front plaza of the bank provides outdoor space for more quiet and contemplative gatherings.
Photo: © Anton Grassl/Esto
At the end of the 1990s, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston began to conceptualize a lofty initiative to improve the quality and public benefits of its plaza, which hadn’t been substantially altered since its construction in the 1970s. The original plaza design was less a destination or gathering space and more of a passageway, and the leadership at the bank wanted to be a contributing partner in providing quality, accessible outdoor space to attract tenants to its leasable office tower and offer places for the public to gather and unwind. The bank had two other reasons for pursuing a plaza redesign: a perceived need to enhance security after the Oklahoma City and first World Trade Center bombings, and the ongoing construction of the Big Dig, which surgically cut off the front 50 feet of the bank’s underground parking along Dewey Square. All these objectives seemed to comfortably coexist.




The project has its critics, some of whom claim that the front plaza is underused and lacks activation or connection to ground-floor uses, and—despite best efforts—that the barriers are harsh and unwelcoming. These first two criticisms do have some merit. The building, because of its internal uses, has but one primary public access point at the base of the tower. This limited access, coupled with the secure nature of the facility’s other uses, does not allow the building’s interior and exterior to integrate. However, the main tower lobby is a gem of a space that blends indoors and outdoors as seamlessly as any other building in the city.

The criticism about the barriers is less defensible. Given the strict security requirements and potential for the plaza to become a walled-off zone, the outcome could have been far worse. The best praise for the plaza is the look of surprise when people are told that there is no gap greater than 4 feet anywhere around the entire perimeter of the building.
The northern side of the plaza connects to Dewey Square, while the remainder of the landscape is more gardenlike — an urban arboretum.
Photos: © Anton Grassl/Esto
The front plaza of the bank provides outdoor space for more quiet and contemplative gatherings.
Photo: © Anton Grassl/Esto



One further example of the Federal Reserve’s commitment to balancing security and welcoming public space has been its continued investment into the care and quality of the trees and plants on the plaza and streetscapes. The grounds are essentially a small urban arboretum, with a grove of sassafras behind the security building, multiple varieties of Styrax, blackgum trees, and a row of dawn redwood flanking the front plaza. A dedicated staff of horticulturalists led by Paul Kelly consistently installs seasonal plantings, monitors plant health, and takes action, as noted by the replacement of the ash trees along Summer Street with technical bare root plantings of disease-resistant elms. In addition, the bank has an extensive art collection within the building and as well as outside, where two public art pieces were relocated to the linear park along Summer Street.

Fifteen years after the completion of the project, the struggle to balance welcoming open space and a secure building continues. While the front plaza of the bank is not the vibrant social and active space that Dewey Square has become, it does play a supporting role by providing secondary space for more quiet and contemplative gatherings. Other recent projects, such as One Boston Place and the Washington Monument in Washington, DC, have incorporated elements similar to the Federal Reserve Bank’s design vocabulary to conjure open public spaces that successfully integrate security. It’s a prime example of the ways in which designers have positively addressed the opposing ideas of security and access, and perhaps even begun to ease this conflict into a well-designed equilibrium.
As for MIT and the Volpe parcel:

The residual 10 acres is being developed by MIT based on Cambridge-compatible guidelines -- agreed to by the Cambridge Pols and Cambridge City Development Professionals.

When the New Volpe is completed and the old Volpe is demolished -- MIT will then partner with various developers to finish the rest of the parcel -- The renders so far are really just notional. Most likely just as the McCourt parcels in the Seaport were rendered in a notional manner by BGI to get an overall approval-- so the Volpe-parcel buildings will evolve from their notional renders. In the Seaport many changes have happened as the various individual buildings have been approved and then proceeded to actual construction.

I would expect that some Volpe-parcel buildings will still be in the process of being reviewed toward the 2020 decade.
 
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whighlander

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Re: Volpe Transportation Center Development Cambridge

Federally-owned land is not subject to zoning, and a Federally-owned building on Federally-owned land is not subject to zoning. Thus, a new Federal building (owned by the government on government-owned land) would not be subject to Cambridge zoning. The government seeks a new building of 390,000 gsf. How high do you (developer) want to make it?

It does not appear from the RFI that the government is interested in leasing new space. Leased space in a privately-owned building would be subject to zoning.

The government has specified that the new building will require security setbacks. What the government really wants is for someone to build a new Volpe Transportation Center building in or near Kendall, at no cost to the government. In exchange, the builder gets a large parcel of land in Kendall Square to develop.

Assume a developer devotes 90,000 sq ft of the current Volpe site for a new government building, and that building's hard construction costs are $175-200 million. In exchange, after open space, there are eight acres (of the remaining 12) that can be developed, so the cost per developable acre is around $20-25 million in the heart of Kendall Square. Such a deal!
Stellar -- that would have been a good analysis except that's not what actually happened

GSA put the entire 14 acres of the Volpe site out for bid and MIT bought the site.
The only part of the deal that actually worked out the way you described was that MIT as master developer needs to deliver to the DOT a building aka the New Volpe on 4 of the 14 acres encompassing 400,000 sq ft.*1
Once the New John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center designed by SOM is up and running -- MIT can tear down the 6 buildings on the original site and take the 10 acres and develop it as the see fit and Cambridge will permit.

Outside of the new Volpe building and its landscaping which the GSA can ordain -- with no Cambridge input -- the rest is in the hands of the deal that MIT signed with Cambridge as Master Developer. MIT has made promises to Cambridge as to the kind of development to expect. Each of the future buildings will be subject to standard Cambridge approval process. MIT has also been releasing architectural massing renderings and ways that the land will be organized around buildings, streets and park land.
However to date -- -- no buildings have been formally submitted for approval.

Enough with the speculation -- on the way home this evening I drove along Binney and Galileo Way and shot some pix.

DSCN1344.JPG

That's the actual New Volpe site along Binney



DSCN1345.JPG

from this side -- all I could see was some excavators working on the site and a few pieces of steel at one end

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Driving past the Gate 2 to the Construction site and looking through to the old Volpe
Note the rendering on a sign attached to the fence and the official address 220 Binney St.

*1
First step on Volpe parcel planned for 2019
Building and landscape designs for new federal building are now complete.
MIT News Office
February 5, 2019

Since the Cambridge City Council approved MIT’s rezoning petition for the 14-acre U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Volpe site in October 2017, a team of architects and landscape planners has been working to imagine a new home for the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Kendall Square.

As part of its January 2017 agreement with the federal government, MIT will build a new headquarters for the U.S. DOT Volpe Center on approximately four acres. The building site is located in the northwest corner of the parcel, next to Binney Street and Loughrey Walkway, which runs between Broadway and Binney Street. The new facility will consolidate operations that are currently carried out in six different buildings on the site.
 

stellarfun

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whigh, to be crystal clear as to ownership of the four acres of land on which new Volpe is being built. MIT did not buy nor does it own those four acres.
The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has signed a $750 million exchange agreement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), paving the way for the redevelopment of the 14 acres of land in Cambridge, Massachusetts, owned by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The agreement allows for the construction of a new Volpe facility on a portion of the property in Kendall Square that will be retained by the federal government.

In exchange, the agreement allows MIT to redevelop the remainder of Volpe’s campus after the construction of Volpe’s new facility. The new Volpe facility will be designed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill.
 

whighlander

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Brad -- I was in the area and decided to stop and supplement my earlier -- "Drive-by" photos
We should have coordinated

Anyway -- I took a Walkaround along Binney from both sides of the street beginning at the old Metropolitan Pipe site @ Fulkerson & Galileo Way & Binney [now an open lot] adjacent to the Grand Junction track

DSCN1390.JPG

A substantial piece of property itself

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Metropolitan Pipe site is behind the colorful fence to the left -- Volpe site is essentially straight ahead on the right Straight ahead on the right is Biogen HQ

DSCN1394.JPG

ThermoFisher straight ahead on right, directly behind and to the right is Biogen as is Biogen directly to left and ahead -- lot of Biogen in the immediate area

DSCN1396.JPG

You are here location map next to pedestrian path [continuation of 6th St]

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Pedestrian Path [continuation of 6th St on opposite side of Binney]
Existing Volpe property inside fence to the Left

DSCN1399.JPG

Looking over the fence from the Binney E bound sidewalk
main excavation is in the near middle to right

DSCN1400.JPG


DSCN1401.JPG

As Stellar has pointed out -- GSA is the actual builder of the Building for the DOT with:
SOM as Architect
Turner as the General Contractor
AECOM as the Construction Manager Advisor

DSCN1402.JPG

The deepest part of the hole so-far


DSCN1407.JPG


From the Eastern Extrema of the New Volpe Project site -- looking West back toward Biogen & Akamai
 

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BeeLine

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stick n move

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Yea baby, I love facades that use angles/shadows/light etc to add depth.
 

ivyhedge

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...that last image from Bos Beeline reminds me of the construction equivalent of the obelisk in 2001...
 

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