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Metropolitan Storage Warehouse in Cambridge to be M.I.T.’s architecture hub

University had considered turning massive structure into dorms


M.I.T. announced on December 14 that it plans to convert the more than 221,000-square-foot Metropolitan Storage Warehouse at Massachusetts Avenue and Vassar Street on the edge of busy, busy Kendall Square into the new home of the university’s School of Architecture and Planning.

It will also host what M.I.T. is describing as makerspace for the university’s Project Manus, an ongoing initiative to turn ideas into concrete things.

M.I.T. plans to preserve the warehouse’s fortress-like exterior, but to turn its warrens of small rooms and low-ceilinged hallways into “state-of-the-art spaces including classrooms, studios, workshops, galleries, and an auditorium,” according to a release from the university.

The university has tapped Diller Scofidio + Renfro to design the project. The architecture firm is perhaps best-known for Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art and New York’s High Line park. M.I.T. is also consulting with the City of Cambridge, particularly when it comes to preserving the character of the warehouse’s exterior.

The latest plans mark yet another twist in the fate of the property, which M.I.T. has owned since 1966 and the earliest pieces of which date from 1894. In early 2016, the school scratched plans to turn it into a dormitory—but not before getting rid of all the storage tenants.

The hulking warehouse’s fate, then, until the December 14 announcement had been uncertain. And it still is somewhat as the various parties embark on a review process. Stay tuned.