SCUP

 

Merit - Excellence in Landscape Architecture for General Design

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Outfinite Corridor
Massachusetts Institute of Technology - The Outfinite Corridor
Jury Comments
“. . . wow! . . . nice street to pedestrian conversion . . . good example of how a street transformation can become a catalyst for change . . . great use of simple paving gradations to create a dynamic field . . . skillful transformation . . .”

Highlights

    • Site – 1.5 acres
    • The Outfinite Corridor reimagines a 1960s-era service alley into a pedestrian cross-campus link.
    • Technical detailing allowed a modular and phased construction approach.
    • Planting areas and site furnishings break down the site’s scale.
    • Simple planting areas function as high-performance stormwater devices.
    • 65,000 sf of landscape filtration beds filter and treat 100% of runoff from a 2-year storm.
    • Below-grade stormwater storage chambers accommodate more than 50,000 gallons of runoff.
    • The site addresses urban heat island effect, replacing asphalt drives with light-colored paving and planting more than 100 new trees.
    • 49 automobile spots become 172 bike parking spots.

Perspectives

In 2017, with the completion of a nanotechnology building, the campus service alley it fronted was poised for transformation. This outdoor space in the heart of the campus was heavily used but often overlooked, relegated to a purely utilitarian circulation network for service vehicles, lab deliveries, emergency egress, parallel parking spaces, and general vehicular convenience. For decades, pedestrians were pushed to the edge of this space on narrow sidewalks. Accessibility, personal mobility, and human comfort were after-thoughts.

A nearby parallel to the beloved interior Infinite Corridor, this corridor had long given pedestrians and motorists access to buildings in the historic campus core. Less than 18 months from design to completion, this asphalt alley re-emerged as a vibrant multi-modal cross-campus link, informal gathering area, and community event space.

Where before, there was a narrow sidewalk at the edge of the space, curb ramps, and a driveway, the Outfinite Corridor is entirely accessible and barrier-free. The corridor enhances pedestrian connectivity; creates places for informal gathering; meets functional vehicular requirements for efficient service and loading to lab buildings as well as emergency egress; mitigates urban flooding in heavy precipitation events; detains, reduces, and treats stormwater before it flows to the Charles River; and cools the city and campus environment with a significant tree canopy.

The Outfinite Corridor employs a restrained palette of landscape materials selected for durability and modular flexibility. The landscape’s expression is rooted in the clarity and legibility of its performance: planar grading, linear drains, and downturned curbs efficiently move stormwater into stormwater filtration planting beds; paving pattern shifts and lines of bollards and benches organize movement; and planting areas distinguish spaces for vehiclepedestrian overlap with protected spaces for pause. Together, these design choices have shaped an immediately popular space that the institute is looking to extend farther across the campus.

Project Team

Reed Hilderbrand, Landscape Architect; Nitsch Engineering, Civil Engineer; Pine and
Swallow Environmental, Horticultural Soils; Irrigation Consulting, Irrigation; Lam
Partners Inc, Lighting; Vanasse Hangen Bustlin (VHB), Traffic;
Turner Construction,
Construction Manager; Brightview, Landscape Construction Services.