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M.I.T.’s Volpe Center development includes plans for Cambridge’s tallest building

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And at least 1,400 housing units

M.I.T. has laid out its vision for the Volpe transportation hub in Kendall Square that it bought from the federal government in January—and it’s a grand one.

The school would build at least 1,400 housing units and 1.7 million square feet of offices and research space as well as retail on the 14-acre expanse that has frequently been described as one of the choicest development sites in the entire U.S.

Such volume is striking enough—and god knows Cambridge needs the housing—but what really stands out is the proposed maximum height of the site’s potentially nine new buildings: Per John Hawkinson at Cambridge Day, the buildings will range from 135 feet to 500 feet.

A building of 500 feet would be far and away the tallest in Cambridge.

By our back-of-the-envelop calculations, the city’s tallest tower right now is M.I.T.’s 295-foot Green Building on its main campus, with a couple of more planned that would be slightly taller than that. None come close to 500 feet, though.

It’s still early days for the Volpe redo, though. M.I.T.’s ambitious could shrink (this is Cambridge, after all, where new development often meets vociferous opposition, whatever its scope). Stay tuned.