Plans for Novartis park approved by Cambridge

5101 novartis
Novartis’s new east campus courtyard will be accessible 7 days a week, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends.
Source: Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research / Michael Van Valkenburg Associates, Inc., Landscape Architects

Novartis has agreed to keep the lush green courtyard of their new campus open seven days a week, in response to requests and feedback from the Cambridge Planning Board. Last month, their previous proposal with weekday-only access was rejected by the board.

The new Novartis courtyard will sit between three buildings on their new campus at 181 – 211 Massachusetts Avenue, on the east side of the street. It will be bounded by Mass. Ave, Albany St., Osborne St., State St., and Windsor St., with entrances on Mass. Ave., Osborne and Windsor. The existing 211 Mass. Ave. (former MIT building N42) will be joined by new buildings from architects Maya Lin and Toshiko Mori. Lin’s building will have ground-floor retail on Mass. Ave. and Albany St.

At the planning board meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 21, Novartis presented new hours and slight architectural modifications. According to Jeffrey Lockwood, a Novartis spokesman, the courtyard will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends “as a starting point,” and from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays. When the courtyard is closed, folding gates will extend the fencing at each entrance.

The gates are designed to be unobtrusive when open, unlike the black fencing of Novartis’s existing public courtyard on the west of Mass. Ave. (That existing courtyard is currently undergoing a $1.5 million renovation of exterior brickwork that began this week.)

The gates and fencing have also moved further back from Mass. Ave. in order to make the courtyard more inviting. The Windsor Street entrance was also changed to make the path less steep, eliminating the need for hand rails and producing a fully accessible path into the courtyard. A reflecting pool outside the Mass. Ave. entrance has been moved inside the courtyard and is expected to be a fountain designed by Lin.

Planning board approval of the courtyard security plan was a condition of Novartis’s zoning relief that was granted to allow some parts of some buildings to reach 125 feet in height, along with other minor zoning relief.

A copy of Novartis’ revised proposal is avaialble at It shows overhead views of the campus as well as architectural renderings of the three courtyard entrances and their associated buildings.