ABC Responds to Forest City's Proposed Design for 300 Mass. Ave

The letter below was recently submitted by A Better Cambridge to the Cambridge Planning Board, in response to Forest City's proposed design for the new building at 300 Mass Ave. Click here to read more background on this issue.

August 5th, 2013

Hugh Russell, Chair
Cambridge Planning Board
344 Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02139

Dear Chairman Russell & members of the Planning Board:

On behalf of A Better Cambridge, I write express our organization’s  dissatisfaction with the architectural design for 300 Massachusetts Avenue as presented to the Planning Board on July 9th. A Better Cambridge supported Forest City’s zoning petition in February of this year because the project stands to add vitality to Central Square, improve the public realm of Mass Ave, and reinforce smart growth principles such as locating jobs near transit. However, we also cautioned that in order to be a successful project, the architectural design of the building should be worthy of its highly visible location and sensitive to its neighborhood context. Unfortunately, A Better Cambridge feels the current proposal fails
on both fronts. This type of corporate, nondescript architecture, if approved, will set a poor precedent and stoke fears that Kendall Square is encroaching on Central Square.

We can do, and have done better. For example, 675 West Kendall Street successfully meets the needs of a pharmaceutical company while also respecting the scale and materials of adjacent residential buildings. The building is contemporary, but not corporate; and its mechanical penthouse recedes into the building. There are other examples too. Here are a few lab buildings that successfully integrate into their neighborhood context:

A Better Cambridge urges you to hold a high standard for architecture at 300 Massachusetts Ave (and everywhere in our city). Please vote against the current design for this important site.


Jesse Kanson-Benanav, Chair
On Behalf of the members of A Better Cambridge