Third Square

Third Square

Cambridge, United States
Project Year


Student Housing

Third Square

CetraRuddy as Architects

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Third Square is an 841,000 SF, $165 million dollar complex comprised of two eight-story buildings and a 530-car underground parking garage. A combined development by Extell Development and Equity Residential, the 3.5 acre complex includes 290 rental units in the North Building and 190 condo and rental units in the South Building. Designed as a new, mixed-use residential community in an emerging neighborhood, Third Square links East Cambridge to MIT and Kendall Square while providing a rich pedestrian experience, retail streetscape, and a variety of residential units.

The design team oriented the two u-shaped buildings around the perimeter of the site, creating a lushly landscaped courtyard reminiscent of the university quads of Harvard and MIT. Open during daylight hours, the courtyard also functions as a public park, fostering community interaction and outdoor activities. A paved walkway divides the green space, providing easy pedestrian access through the complex as well as to a future park to the west. The community experience continues inside the buildings, each with plentiful amenity spaces including a fitness center, an indoor pool, a library, lounges, a business center, a private dining area, and a screening room—all of which open onto the landscaped courtyard.

Another key aspect of the project was creating sensitive urban design that would allow for maximum floor/area/ratio (FAR) while respecting traditional, low-rise Boston architecture. This was achieved through a sophisticated design and variant streetwall façade which incorporates a range of materials including brick, stucco, metal siding, and glazed bay windows. This rhythmic façade breaks down the building mass creating alternating patterns that resemble a series of row houses. In addition, vertical setbacks and glass building corners reduce the perception of bulk and create a more intimate scale that is sensitive to the adjoining residential neighborhoods. The glass façade combined with the interior courtyard also provides abundant light and air in the interiors, a feature not often found in such a dense urban setting.

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