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Massachusetts Institute of Technology Albany Street Cogeneration Plant

Albany Street Cogeneration Plant

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, Massachusetts

69,000 gsf

$152 million

2020

The Cogeneration Facility is part of a major utilities infrastructure modernization initiative underway at MIT. Ellenzweig is providing architectural planning and design services for that initiative and for the new Cogeneration Facility, which will replace the existing Cogeneration Facility that was designed by Ellenzweig and completed in 1995. The new facility is a 40-MW Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Plant that will meet MIT’s greenhouse gas emission targets, enable campus implementation of even more efficient energy technologies, and allow the campus to operate in the event of a regional utility outage, storm surge, or major natural disaster. Resiliency and sustainability are central to the project design approach, including the elevation of all critical utility systems above the 500-year flood plain level.

 

Located in the densely populated, highly active urban environment of the MIT campus in the City of Cambridge, the Cogeneration Facility will have a significant presence along Albany Street. The architectural expression is inspired by the industrial scale of the machinery and systems housed within, as well as their significant need for ventilation or “breathing” through the exterior envelope. The façade’s sculptural metal panel forms, or “cowls,” are specifically engineered to permit air transfer on all sides, similar in concept to the gills of a fish. A bold red accent color animates these cowls, dramatically highlighting the areas where fresh air enters and departs the facility. Rendered in folded metal panels, the building’s tall exhaust stack is made to feel an integral part of the sculptural composition. Large windows along the street and in the metal panels above provide visual relief to the necessarily substantial structure. The window openings frame specific views of the inner workings of the building and impart a more pedestrian feeling to the Cogeneration Facility, allowing for a composition well-suited to its use and highly appropriate for its place in the City and on the MIT campus.