Special Panel to Review Kennedy Library Design
A special review panel will examine the basic design of the proposed John F. Kennedy Memorial Library, in what could be the final step before the Library Corporation Trustees approve the building plan.
John H. Corcoran, Cambridge City Manager, and the Harvard Square Task Force announced plans last Wednesday to initiate the review board to look into the placement of the Memorial plaza, the parking and traffic situation and the tax-generating potential of the Kennedy site.
The review panel, consisting of local architects and members of the City's Planning and Development Department, will follow the pattern established in negotiations earlier this year with the adjacent Holiday Inn construction.
In those discussions, Peter J. Kanavos '46, the developer, and the City met for one month before agreeing to change the hotel from 18 to 8 stories in height.
The Library Corporation hopes to have final plans for the 12.2 acre site ready by May 29, the 56th anniversary of the late President's birthday.
The Library review group is likely to see some lively debate, and find that there is considerable disagreement about what the Kennedy Library Corporation can and should build.
I.M. Pei, architect for the Library Comples, proposed a development late last year for the Charles River site that included a memorial museum, a library and archives, the Kennedy Institute of Politics, the Harvard Government Department, underground parking and a related facilities building containing condominium apartments and commercial space.
Though no formal change in plans has been announced, the Corporation has evidently radically altered its present building goals.
"The plans now include no related facilities building and [now includes] 475 on-grade parking spaces," Daniel H. Fenn Jr. '46, a member of the Corporation, said yesterday.
"The Corporation has a mandate for the Library and archives, but not for any related facilities," Helen Keyes, administrator for the Corporation, said in an interview last month. "But we want the related facilities to bring life to the area--day and night--and also because it will bring tax revenue to the City."
The currently proposed parking lots would comprise much of the north and west sections of the site, surrounding the memorial on two sides.
In a report to Corcoran last week, the Task Force identified the key issues to be examined in the review as:
* the orientation of the Kennedy Memorial, the outside area intended for meditation and remembrance;
* the provision for off-street parking;
* the Library's access and relationship to Brattle Square; and
* the tax-generating potential of the Kennedy site.
The design probe comes on the heels of complaints by community members that the orientation of the memorial complex, which was designed by Pei to look out over the Charles, ignores the interests of the nearby neighborhoods and business districts.
The just-abandoned plans for 120 condominium apartments called for a ten-story building running the length of the library site with commercial frontage on street-level.
Community members complained that the apartments formed a wall between the neighborhood and the memorial and did not properly integrate the City into the design.
The parking problem caused by the million people who will visit the Kennedy memorial each year is especially troublesome because the nature of the soil--which is really more like mud--makes underground parking very expensive on the site.
Robert A. Boyer, City Planner, has said the Library should provide 1000 spaces for the site, but Corporation spokesmen say they cannot afford that many spaces