The City of Cambridge put out the bat signal for ideas on how to better connect its go-go Kendall Square technology engine; and as of late last week four ideas are up for consideration, all emphasizing pedestrian- and biker-friendliness as well as the connectivity that that can bring. They include among their proposals things such as canals and Charles River bridges and man-made islands on said river and multi-purpose playgrounds for adults. The plans may never actually come to fruition—the city stresses that the competition, called ConnectKendall, is more about vision than execution—but they're certainly a fun framework for thinking about how East Cambridge might change.
The first entry (in no particular order) comes from a team led by landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. It proposes features such as "a large event lawn and concert amphitheater at Kendall Green in the Volpe site, to play fountains and café in a new plaza at Point Park, to a new dog park and community gardens at Rogers Street Park."
The next proposal is from a group led by multi-disciplinary design firm Framework and is all about the walkability: "The neighborhood is designed for walking; a network of pedestrian-oriented streets and paths offers a variety of pleasant routes—leafy walkways, retail streets, covered routes for inclement weather, and pathways along the trace of the historic canal." And croquet, apparently.
The team led by landscape architecture firm Richard Burck Associates has put forth a hydro-centric plan: "We propose to borrow from history in freshly interpreted ways, reestablishing water as a basis of both sustainability and circulation while at the same time, seeking to weaken the scar tissue of super blocks, allowing finer grained circulation patterns to emerge through them."
This one's a bit of a mind-blower. The Sitelab-led team's proposal has several moving concepts—and concepts are exactly what they are. There's something called the "Infinite Field," for instance, which looks like a multi-purpose playground for adults.
Again, though, these ideas will not necessarily lead to something as permanent as poetry in sidewalks. The finalists do, however, get $50,000 each for their troubles; and the city will pay the winner, to be selected in April, an identical amount to work with Cambridge on perhaps, just maybe, putting one of these cerebral thunderstorms into practice.
· Website: ConnectKendall Square [City of Cambridge]
· Four Designs Propose Islands, More Canal, in Competition for ConnectKendall 'Prize' [Day]
· Cambridge Giving Shot at Immortality Through Sidewalk Poetry [Curbed Boston]