U.S. Department of Transportation holds groundbreaking ceremony for Volpe site

New Volpe Center developed through collaboration between MIT and the DOT

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) held a groundbreaking ceremony Oct. 30 to celebrate the start of construction for the new John A. Volpe Transportation Systems Center in Kendall Square. The construction of the new facility is expected to be completed in 2023.

Present at the groundbreaking were U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao, Chief of Staff of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Robert Borden, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Mayor of Cambridge Marc C. McGovern, and MIT Vice President for Research Maria Zuber, along with other speakers.

The new Volpe Center will replace the current Volpe’s six buildings and parking lots, spread across 14 acres, and consolidate them into a single building occupying approximately four acres of land. This is the result of an Exchange Agreement executed January 2017 between the GSA and MIT.

The Exchange Agreement stipulates that MIT pay $750 million to design and construct the new Volpe facility. The property no longer occupied by the federal government will then be conveyed to MIT for its own uses.

During the groundbreaking ceremony, Christopher Averill, regional administrator of the GSA, said, “The Volpe Center is at the cutting edge of research into the challenges facing our nation’s transportation and infrastructure systems, …  but to undertake that work, the members of the Volpe team require a modern 21st century workspace.”

According to a DOT press release, the new facility will be “an energy efficient structure accompanied by underground parking and approximately 100 bicycle parking spaces.” It will “meet LEED Gold v4 standards, focusing on sustainability.”

MIT plans to use the remaining space as a mixed-use environment, which will include four residential and four commercial buildings. The buildings will serve as affordable housing, open space, lab and office space, retail and active street uses, and a community center. 

“We are thrilled to be able to offer these amenities to the Cambridge community and to help further advance the Kendall Square innovation ecosystem,” Zuber said.