Leading a collaborative team of local, national, and international consultants, RBA was selected by jury as the winner of the Connect Kendall Open Space Framework national competition. The competition was the culmination of a multi-year community based effort to solicit and eventually implement strategies for achieving greater district connectivity, a stronger sense of place, and the conceptual design of four new public open spaces in Cambridge.
Seeking to break down the scale of Kendall’s large superblocks, the team developed a “dendritic” pattern concept for the project. This spatial pattern creates a multilayered approach to address connectivity between development zones. At the same time, the proposed extension of the historic Broad Canal inwards towards the district aims to create a stronger sense of place for the neighborhood. By tracing the water channel through development blocks and terminating it in a proposed new wetland, the plan seeks to re-connect Kendall with its own rich history. Extending the water into the heart of the neighborhood also provides a direct route for local residents and users to the Charles River and is envisioned as a new and vibrant mixed-use corridor, meant to integrate street level commercial activity with strong pedestrian spaces.
In the words of the jury: “This framework is rooted in a rich and graphic understanding of the site’s natural history and cultural evolution. The idea of first to “create” Kendall Square, and then “connect” it, is an excellent premise and produces a powerful network of proposed landscape and program spaces. The “dendritic” diagram effectively conveys the central design concept and lends it the needed flexibility for changing uses, circulation patterns, and evolution over time. The result is a beautiful and believable master plan that creates a strong connection to the river. The central connection from the created wetland at the Volpe site to the extended Broad Canal and the Charles River transforms the entire study area and makes the proposal outstanding.” (Jury Report, Stage III)