Bjorn Poonen's projects
This is way too massive. There should be space for pedestrians, runners, and bicycles along this canal area to take in the canal. Where is the engagement with the community? Where is any sense of openness? Also the ground floor facade of the building looks one massive largely opaque wall; ground floors out-facing walls on the public way should be areas with visual interest to people walking by - transparent windows for people to get a sense of the vitality of the area - and doors leading small businesses, places for coffee, music, drinks). This building looks sterile, confrontational and anti-neighborhood to an extreme.
Think a grocery would be incredibly helpful in the area, as there aren't many options in the Kendall Sq area and you are forced to rely on convenience stores. Additionally, some effort to make the space a very active place beyond the working hours would be great! It's totally a ghost town in Kendall after a certain time, so any effort to keep the place active would be great!
The amendment would permit a 350 ft. building, whereas all existing Cambridge buildings are under 300 ft. Any such building would immediately become a symbol for the city, so we need to be careful about what kind of building this is, and where it goes. Although I understand the desire to provide incentives to encourage the development of more housing, this particular incentive seems too extreme. I would think that allowing an exception to go from 250 ft. to 300 ft. would be more than enough. In addition, a 350 ft. building would set a dangerous precedent for other areas of the city.
Encouraging ground-level (or near-ground-level) retail as in Section 402, GFA exclusion (4) of the KSURP draft amendment is a good idea. It would be better, however, if (4)(b) were expanded to encourage retail also along pedestrian areas whether or not they were within 100 feet of a major road. For example, if these principles were later applied to the Volpe site (which they don't yet), and a major public park were built there at the corner of 3rd and Broadway as suggested by several finalists in the Connect Kendall Square open space competition, it should be fine to have appropriate retail around the perimeter of such a park even if not within 100 feet of a major road. There should not be a "put retail along major roads" principle in conflict with the "put a public park in a visible central location" principle before it has been decided where a park should go. If anything, the park should have first dibs on location.
Either a pharmacy or a grocery would be great. Many high-rise buildings have gone up in the last few years without resulting in a pharmacy or grocery (I do not consider Commonwealth on Broad Canal to be a grocery). What is being done, beyond saying that it would be a good idea, to ensure or at least encourage that a pharmacy or grocery will be included this time?
Section 305 of the draft KSURP plan is being amended to allow private roof decks and balconies to count toward the open space requirements for new development, meaning that less open space would be required on the ground. Similarly, Section 402 is being amended to say that such private decks and balconies do not count toward floor space limits in certain situations. What is the rationale for these modifications?
@Jan Devereux: I too remember that http://www.connectkendallsquare.com/
originally advertised a jury session with team presentations on February 18. From the website it looks as if these were rescheduled to March 25-26, 2015. (My guess is that the whole process got delayed somehow due to the weather.)
@Patrick Barrett: The 7.5 acre park is mentioned in City documents at least as early as 2001 and at least as late as December 2013: see page 4.12 of the Eastern Cambridge Planning Study at http://www.cambridgema.gov/CDD/Projects/Planning/ECAPS.aspx and page 84 of the K2C2 Kendall Square final report at http://www.cambridgema.gov/CDD/Projects/Planning/K2C2.aspx
In the context of all that has been already been built, the public open space is needed more than ever. There are already over 1000 residents living in a one block radius of the Volpe southeast corner rectangle alone, including many families with young children, so a park there would be heavily used.
Please include a grocery store in this project!
Right now, Kendall is an awkward neighborhood to live in: there's no pharmacy or grocery store close by (as other commenters have mentioned) and while it's great that it's close to Red Line access, it feels more transient and business-focused than residential. With so many companies located in Kendall, having more nearby housing (especially units that are affordable to a range of living situations) would be great--as long as the added housing units come with retail that will benefit the neighborhood overall. Adding a grocery store and pharmacy would mean people don't have to leave Kendall to get daily/weekly errands done, and create a better sense of community in the neighborhood.
The open space rectangle at the SE corner of Volpe (bordered by Broadway, 3rd, Potter) and the open space at the NW corner of Volpe should be retained as public parks. In line with the K2 Committee's recommendation, this would form a chain of parks from the existing walkway north of Ames, to the NW Volpe park, to the SE Volpe park, to Point Park, to the river via whatever gateway MIT is planning. The SE corner of Volpe is especially important to keep as open space, in light of the approval of MIT's rezoning petition, because otherwise it seems that Point Park is going to be surrounded by 200'+ buildings on all sides. A public park at the SE corner of Volpe could serve as the heart of Kendall Square, giving it its identity as a Square.
What the neighborhood needs most is a grocery store. This lot is about the size of the lot of the Whole Foods on Prospect St., so it could accommodate one. Dan Malis's idea of a permanent farmer's market is another excellent possibility.
I think that the 3rd Street Lot might be developed into a permanent Farmer’s Market, much like what is proposed for Haymarket. It’s a strategic location, will get tons of foot and road traffic, and would encourage local produce … and many of the Cambridge chefs would likely get behind it.
It would be great for the neighborhood if Boston Properties would consider making the new building a condominium with units for sale rather than for rent. Currently there are many apartments for rent in Kendall Square (Third Square, Watermark Kendall East and West, Archstone Kendall Square, etc.), but essentially no opportunities for home ownership, even though there are many people who would be interested in ownership.