MIT COOP building to be demolished, replaced

COOP also considering shifting textbook purchases to online platform

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The MIT COOP is relocating to a temporary, smaller location at 80 Broadway.
Kevin Ly–The Tech

The MIT COOP will close its Kendall Square location Feb. 25 and relocate to a temporary location at 80 Broadway. The building it currently occupies at 325 Main Street will be demolished and replaced with a new commercial building.

The COOP will have to occupy a smaller space at its new location, but will offer the same textbooks, supplies, and insignia, Jeremiah P. Murphy, Jr., president of the Harvard Cooperative Society, wrote in an email to The Tech. There will be a reduction in non-academic goods; the COOP is also considering shifting course textbook purchases to an online platform.

A plan approved in December 2018 provides the framework of the development scope for the new building, Tom Evans, executive director of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, wrote in an email to The Tech. However, the specific building design is pending approval, with its design review scheduled for this month.

The cover sheet of the proposed design, found on the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority website, targets demolition to begin this May and completion of the new building for early 2022. Boston Properties is the developer in charge of this site.

The bottom two floors of the proposed building design have been designated for retail stores, restaurants, and a public lobby that connects Kendall Plaza to the Kendall Rooftop Garden. The other 14 floors of the over-244-foot building are planned to be used as office space. As part of the project, a new head house for the Kendall Square outbound T station has been proposed and is pending MBTA approval.

According to a government affairs update sent by the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce in December 2018, Google is likely to be the anchor tenant of the new building. The building will connect to Google’s current office at 355 Main St.

The preliminary building design received scrutiny for blocking view of other buildings and light. Revised plans published to the CRA website in January removed bulk from the building, expanding the gap separating it from other buildings. Furthermore, floor-to-ceiling height was reduced, allowing for an additional floor, increasing floor space.

However, according to a study included in the design document, the shadow of the proposed building would still cover up to 90 percent of the rooftop garden behind it, depending on the season and time of day.

Discussion regarding plans for a new building began 2011 during the City of Cambridge’s K2 Planning process, Evans wrote. According to Evans, motivations for the new building include “allowing space for the innovation economy to grow in Kendall, building a more mixed use neighborhood, expanding public amenities, and pursuing sustainable development.”  

Murphy wrote that the COOP has the option of returning to the newly built commercial building at 325 Main St. when it is complete. The COOP had worked with the site developer, Boston Properties, for several months to agree on the relocation.

In the meantime, the COOP is expected to reopen at its temporary 80 Broadway location on March 4.