Technology Square at MIT was first built in the 1960s as an urban renewal superblock. By 1998, there was a significant increase in demand for academic and commercial research space near the university. Sasaki provided multidisciplinary services to reposition the existing urban site into a 21st-century mixed-use biotech and high-tech center. The urban design strategy creates a structure of streets and open spaces to reconnect the site, which includes the front door to MIT, an active residential neighborhood, a mixed-use complex, and a district of leading biotech firms. By using buildings to frame these streets and open spaces, the site accommodates an additional 650,000 square feet of space—three times what the owners had thought possible. The planning and design process employed extensive interaction with city officials and public interest groups to succeed in a complicated public approval process.
Sasaki Associates provided planning, urban design, architecture, landscape architecture, civil engineering, interiors, and graphic design services for the project, which includes the renovation of three buildings, 650,000 square feet of construction, 450 structured parking spaces, and redesigned open space. The project integrates the square into city fabric by creating active pedestrian friendly streets, open spaces, and mixed-use buildings.
Sasaki's landscape design celebrates a mature grove of trees—a valuable landscape resource to the owners and a landmark treasured by the community. Contemporary site lighting and furnishings add a fresh feel to the campus. The safe and attractive outdoor environment attracts both tenants and the public.
The neutral palette of pre-cast concrete and curtain wall systems harmonize with the existing pre-cast facades. Judicious use of perforated metal panel elements and aluminum entrance canopies add contemporary signature elements and curb appeal to the campus as a whole. In addition to overall MEP systems upgrades, the existing buildings are revitalized with bold, cutting-edge lobby designs. Loading facilities are reorganized to minimize their encroachment onto the site and the streetscape.
Sasaki's fresh branding for Technology Square is a highly effective tool in reestablishing the property as a prime location for new companies. The bold and colorful site signage kiosks and systems designed for the campus reinforce the technology theme of the campus.
Technology Square soon attracted high profile commercial research tenants such as Novartis, Dyax, and Forrester Research. MIT also located some of their academic research programs to the revitalized and expanded Technology Square. The project was delivered on budget, and within a three-year construction period to accommodate the fit-up and move-in schedules of the end users. The now repositioned Technology Square is a poignant example of a bold development plan that yielded tremendous results for all parties.
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