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New Kendall Square Giant Pulling M.I.T. Braintrust East

[Rendering of Biogen's new six-story HQ via Alexandria Real Estate]

Pasadena, Calif.-based Alexandria Real Estate Equities and Boston-born, New York-based Boston Properties broke ground with Governor Deval Patrick yesterday on the ginormous Alexandria Center off Kendall Square in Cambridge. The $500 million mixed-use development will add to the area 1.7 million square feet—the equivalent of an entire Pru, plus, oh, about 500,000 more feet—including 220 apartments and a full-block city park. That's a lot of space and a lot of people will center their waking lives about it.

While, indeed, the parameters of Alexandria Center stagger the Cantabrigian imagination, where one big building is enough to spur protests or jubilation, its location is what struck our (and others') fancy. Basically, by dint of its nexus at Binney and Fifth streets, where biotech giant Biogen will have its headquarters as part of the project by 2014, Alexandria Center pulls M.I.T.'s very raison d'etre of marketable research eastward, away from the main parts of campus.

But how soon?

“We’re actively talking to prospective tenants for the remaining buildings in the project so it will really depend on how quickly we can sign up tenants,’’ Alexandria Real Esttae executive vice president Thomas J. Andrews said in an interview.

In the end, an inescapably grittier area on the Cambridge-Somerville border should in the next decade become M.I.T. East. What say you, Harvard?

· $500 M. Project for Kendall Square [NECN]
· Biogen Breaks Ground on New Cambridge Campus [Chronicle]

M.I.T.

Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA

17 Cambridge Center, cambridge, ma