FNL speaks on Kendall design plan

Newsletter expresses approval of faculty involvement

The newest edition of the MIT Faculty Newsletter includes an editorial and article addressing the East Campus development process — both in response to the update on the plan from this summer broadcast by Provost Martin A. Schmidt PhD ’88. The article, written by Architecture Department Head J. Meejin Yoon, outlines the heavy involvement of the School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P), in developing a revised vision for the design project.

The editorial both applauds the progress on the endeavor so far and criticizes the update for not acknowledging the new Campus Planning Committee dedicated to providing input to the design process.

“We regret that the Provost made no mention of the newly formed Campus Planning Committee or of its expected role in the East Campus/Kendall Square process,” the editorial states.

The East Campus/Kendall gateway urban design study, which has been in the works since 2009, seeks to create a revitalized gateway to the Kendall Square-East Campus area by “providing space for new innovative academic initiatives and commercial enterprises,” among other things. When the MIT Investment Management Company (MITIMCo), first revealed a draft of a plan for the design, it was criticized for lack of faculty involvement in its development and for not addressing key issues such as the need for graduate housing.

Yoon’s article describes the process by which faculty input was incorporated into the development plan. SA+P originally commissioned seven faculty members to serve on a committee to contribute to the East Campus plan in April 2013. While Yoon mentions that they “approached the call to action with measured skepticism,” their designs were nonetheless received well by administrators on the East Campus Steering Committee and “fully embraced as part of the next iteration of the East Campus planning process.”

“The planning and design process of the MIT campus is a complex one, involving dozens of stakeholders, administrators, faculty, students, and planning and design professionals,” Yoon writes in the piece.

The editorial also echoes the sentiment of support for the iterative process through the praise of the inclusion of graduate housing into the development plan. Although the piece mentions that the “proposal to tear down Eastgate graduate student housing remains somewhat unresolved,” the editorial committee “applauds the assertion that new housing will be built first.” The editorial also cites previously published pieces on the graduate housing shortage to support the assertion that increasing the availability of graduate housing will decrease the pressure on graduate students to find housing further from campus.

“We must not knowingly increase burdens on our graduate students. Already graduate students are forced to move further away from campus and spend more time commuting,” the article says.