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What’s next for east campus and Kendall Square

At the faculty meeting on Wednesday, Provost Chris A. Kaiser PhD ’87 announced the appointment of a new group of administrators, faculty, staff, and graduate students to make specific plans for MIT’s east campus. In the next two or three months, the group will work on a “strategic vision” for a new gateway at the Kendall T stop that is hoped to be as iconic as MIT’s entrance at 77 Mass. Ave. The group is also tasked with finding ways to improve Kendall Square as an “innovation cluster” and draw more retail and foot traffic to the area.

In the seven to nine months after that, according to Kaiser, the exact implementation will be worked out by professional consultants.

Kaiser’s announcement comes after the Cambridge City Council’s vote in favor of MIT’s Kendall rezoning proposal, a formal endorsement of MIT’s intentions to bring denser mixed-use development to the area.

Leading up to that vote, vocal members of the MIT community criticized the lack of faculty input in the proposal, despite assurances from administrators that the rezoning proposal would leave enough room to address issues important to the MIT community, such as the need for graduate student housing.

But a majority of the members of the new study group are MIT faculty in the Department of Architecture and Planning or the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, a fact that anthropology professor Susan S. Silbey called “gratifying.” The group is divided into two subgroups: a steering group chaired jointly by Kaiser and Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz SM ’01, and a design group chaired by School of Architecture Dean Adèle N. Santos.

The study group will also take into account the findings of the graduate student housing working group chaired by former DUSP head Phillip L. Clay PhD ’75.

“Quite honestly, I could not tell you whether we need more graduate student housing or not, looking at the data we have now,” Kaiser said at the faculty meeting. But he hopes that Clay’s group will shed light on the matter in their report, which is scheduled to be released this summer.

—Leon Lin