East Cambridge, Massachusetts, is like a city with two stories. To the south is thriving Kendall Square, which has arguably one of the strongest markets for office and lab real estate in the country because it neighbors the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). To the north is a traditional residential neighborhood that takes great pride in its labor roots. How can this gap be bridged with one project?

Because The Foundry was a community-led adaptive reuse process, energy efficiency measures focused largely on window replacements, additional roof insulation, and strategic interventions that preserved the historic building’s brick and timber frame. Courtesy Cambridge Seven

Enter The Foundry, an 1890s landmark that once housed the Blake and Knowles Steam Pump Company but was converted last year into a lively mixed-use community centre. “You have this well-established neighborhood that saw the transformation of Kendall Square and said, ‘This is not for us,'” says Stephanie Greenfield, principal of CambridgeSeven, the local architecture firm responsible for the project. from him”.

They wanted so much, and the architects complied: The 50,000-square-foot structure is first and foremost a triumphant example of adaptive reuse in the context of the city’s progressive sustainability goals of LEED Gold certification and net-zero carbon emissions. Energy efficiency measures focused on window replacement and additional roof insulation, and strategic interventions were chosen to support a more welcoming design in the formerly introverted industrial building.

It now accommodates spaces for craft makers such as fiber art and jewellery, a theatre, dance studio, cooking facilities, music venues and more. The architects take pride in their sustainability features and people-centered ethos.

The manufacturing room has two walls lined with desks containing sewing machines and features exposed ductwork, steel trusses, and a brick wall with window.
The project is equipped to support Al Sanea’s various activities. The exposed steel trusses ensure that the new spaces won’t look too precious. Courtesy Cambridge Seven

“Bridge is a good word to describe what this (project) means,” says Justin Crane, also a director at CambridgeSeven. “This building is a big experiment. We’ve kept the industrial feel while upgrading it to a 21st century icon and accommodating offices at market rates, which helps pay for the community’s utilities.


More Metropolis



One early summer morning, a tour of the building showed a beautiful original brick facade emblazoned with the address: 101 Rogers Street. “It’s a reference to education, like Performing Arts 101,” says Greenfield. In addition to an elevator, a transformer and other infrastructure covered with aluminium. Visitors enter The Foundry through an elevated, triple-height atrium. Look up and you will find original timber joists supporting the ceiling. Columns abound everywhere, but the contrasting insertion of modern steel beams forms a superimposed building system and gives a distinct sense of the new versus the original. Light ash wood matched with new black steel creates a mysterious Scandinavian feel.

An auditorium filled with stackable chairs and a table on wheels beneath ceiling trusses that suspend spotlights and audio-visual equipment.
The event space can host community or corporate activities using a flexible system of mobile furniture and ceiling trusses for spotlights and audio-visual equipment. Courtesy Cambridge Seven

The 19,000 square feet of leasable space is already occupied by biotech start-ups, and the lobby and elevator are shared entirely to encourage interaction between the two groups in the neighborhood — encounters that can emphasize their commonalities. “The idea was if we did a scene, people would come. The city gave us the challenge (to design) all of these programmes, and our job was to integrate it all,” says Greenfield.

While The Foundry is open to all Cantabrigians, as the locals are known, access is not free. It works on a rolling scale where groups approach employees and ask for space for a certain period of time and disclose their financial statements so that the amount they should be charged can be fairly determined.

Shared kitchen with large prep island and stools, black and white tiled floor and portable cooking hobs.
The kitchen is about the first communal spaces. “We didn’t want it so clean people could feel like they couldn’t be messy,” says company director Justin Crane. Courtesy Cambridge Seven

“Our tiered scale means that groups can use space at a discount of up to 80 percent, which works out to about $4 an hour,” says Diana Navarrete-Rakaukas, executive director of The Foundry Consortium, a group of civic entities that work alongside the city. . , were the clients of the project. She adds that The Foundry, which opens in 2022, has received inquiries from similar-sized cities and towns in Massachusetts. They want to know how it works? Is he working?’ “, as you say.

The response from various arts organizations and community groups has also been satisfactory. “We have a lot of people attending, people have a lot of questions. It feels like a no-man’s-land for everyone. Since it’s a neutral community space, the intimidation factor goes away,” Navarrete-Rackaucas explains.

Overall, The Foundry seems to be well used and appreciated. “The neighborhood said, ‘It’s something we need, we deserve it and we’ll use it,'” says Navarrete-Rakaukas.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: