URBAN FLOTILLA | REDEVELOPMENT OF CENTRAL SQUARE | CAMBRIDGE, MA
Yale School of Architecture | Studio Mitchell/Shahane | with Read Langworthy | 2013
Central Square is ethnically, culturally and architecturally diverse, but it lacks density and public space, and therefore lacks identity. This project harnesses the diverse forces of the site and orchestrates them to create a strong urban and architectural identity, while maintaining its multiplicity. The dialectic of diversity and identity is explored through the fine line between mega-structure and urban aggregation. Starting with identifying, framing and connecting leftover spaces on the site, the project weaves together the existing with the new structure. Through capping the building height at 86’ feet the project tests how the dynamics of compression produce new kinds of shared spaces. The resultant relationship between old and new activates the previously neglected spaces - rooftops and back alleys - to create new opportunities for urban community. What emerges is a recharged area with a great increase in FAR, allowing new residential, commercial, and collective gathering spaces, without building towers or a tabula rasa approach. Ultimately this creates a strong identity for the neighborhood and allows the existing diversity to remain, while strengthening the vitality and variety of activities that occur in in the area.