As featured in Banker & Tradesman

Boston is home to a breadth of new developments, but none are quite like Cambridge Crossing (CX)—a new 45-acre transit-oriented mixed-use urban development in East Cambridge by DivcoWest. For one, and unlike many new projects, CX will devote 11-acres to activated public and green space, among other public attractions.

A prime location that had been sitting stagnant, CX is adjacent to Kendall Square and centered within one of the highest concentrations of talent and intellectual capital in the world. Formerly a rail yard, the mixed-use neighborhood will include state-of-the-art science, technology, and research facilities, residential units, and retail amenities in a compact, walkable, and transit- and bicycle-friendly plan that will form a gateway to Kendall Square while advancing an integral part of the existing neighborhood. 

Shawmut is engaged on four separate projects throughout the development, including public commons and retail buildings located across three parcels. However, it’s The Common that will empower interactions and spark breakthroughs—and ultimately create the heartbeat and focal point of the entire development.

In partnership with architect firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Shawmut is working to build-out The Common to help form a centralized public and green space which will act as the hub of the 11-acres of planned open space within the mixed-use development.

From open lawns and space for community events and concerts to more intimate spaces for small gatherings and quiet contemplation, the greenway is designed to accommodate an array of outdoor activities that will round out the development as a one-stop destination that provides a day’s worth of activities.

The space is designed on creative environmental principles and coincidentally sits atop an existing water garden. Shawmut is retrofitting the garden into a series of planted swales that will include a state-of-the-art irrigation system that will capture, cleanse, and transport water from the surrounding buildings and roads—resulting in a reduction in underground site infrastructure while creating a unique water system based on the neighborhoods ecology and environmental processes.

Groups of native trees and landforms will create a sense of variety for the space, matching the building and intellectual landscape of Boston. This variety isn’t only a nod to the development’s surroundings, but in fact, very sensible—increasing the perceived size of the park and providing the maximum diversity in park function.

In a nod to the former rail yard, transportation is a key facet to the public space which will include a multi-use bike and recreation trail that effectively knits together the new development to the existing neighborhood—creating a vibrant and flexible community. In addition to being a cyclist’s paradise, the site will be directly served by two MBTA transit lines, including the new Lechmere Station, part of the Green Line Extension.

Extending the development’s offerings, Shawmut is working to construct two retail buildings that will contribute to the 100,000-square-feet of unique and eclectic café, restaurant, and retail space within the new development. In partnership with architect firm Prellwitz Chilinski Associates, this series of urban plaza spaces will contribute to the vitality and life for the site.

The two parcels will seamlessly blend together the common landscape by utilizing metal, glass, and cedar materials and design palettes. From a two shed-inspired building with a glass-covered outdoor plaza to a single-story metal-framed building, each of the buildings will follow a consistent theme—transparency and connectedness. In fact, key design elements include operable glass partitions that will ultimately create a unified flow between the outdoors and Common to indoor retail and restaurant space—creating indoor-outdoor spaces to deliver a unique, local neighborhood experience.

At full buildout, CX will be comprised of 4.5 million square-feet of planned commercial, retail and residential space across 45-acres. As one of the largest transit-oriented site in the Greater Boston region, CX will be a world-class development that creates a place where people can live, work, play, and thrive.

The Common—alongside state-of-the-art retail pavilions—will be the very heartbeat of Cambridge Crossing. And as the new home to Boston’s thinkers, doers, makers, and builders, this is much more than a place, it’s a launching pad for innovation and the ideas that could change the world.

Kevin Sullivan, vice president, Shawmut Design and Construction