Plasma sign of the times in Kendall Square

Cambridge Day reports Microsoft this weekend turned on a large plasma-screen sign, in a city where not everybody is enamored of such advertising.

"Terry Ragon was right when he said if we don't watch out our city will look like Las Vegas. It has begun," [Mark] Jaquith said, referring to the plasma display as "a monstrosity."

Ragon was the guy who spent several hundred thousand dollars of his own money fighting a proposal to let companies put their names atop their office buildings.



Free tagging: 


No more so than

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the faregate ads the MBTA has put in in the stations that were paid for with public taxpayer's money. Yet, those faregate ads are somehow OK, but a plasma screen TV in a lobby of a private company's building isn't.

Let's be clear about this.

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Let's be clear about this. It's no mistake that the lobby faces the Longfellow Bridge, is glass-windowed, and has a large plasma display in it. Despite it being in private property, it's designed to be as publicly visible as possible. I haven't decided how I feel about it - I haven't gone to look - but this is as public a display as you could likely get away with in Cambridge.

Dude. Get a grip.

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Not everything in life has something to do with the MBTA.

You really need to find somewhere else to grind your axe.

Oh please

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I saw this and anticipated something like Times Square on the Microsoft building.

It's a FREAKING VIDEO WALL IN THE LOBBY. It's indoors. It's 20' by 12'. It's the size of your living room wall. If the lobby didn't have a glass exterior, you wouldn't even see it. It's bigger than any video wall I've seen, but it's not like video walls in lobbies are anything new. And it's certainly not going to ruin someone's view from their house.

This is just complaining for the sake of complaining. You have more grounds to complain about the environmental damage coming from purchasing 25 plasma TVs for something that has decorative value at best.

Zoning loophole - indoor signs

There are a growing number of examples of indoor signange more than one foot inside the building that can be as bright, garish, and distracting to public safety (drivers) as tenants want. Outside signs have to meet zoning laws and are subject to permitting. Huge inside signs not so much. Cell phone shops including Verizon's often have large, brightly lit signs on their interior walls with large glass windows. Apple stores are designed with huge glass frontage and bright interior lighting and signage. Why go through a public zoning battle over outdoors signs when indoor ones are effortless?

I think the excessively bright BOA ATM kiosk at Vassar and Mass Ave, Cambridge partially blinded the truck driver who drove over cyclist Phyo Kyaw on 12/27/2011. It was rainy and dark. Kyaw had no headlight and was dressed in all dark clothing, so the kiosk was the brightest light source around. Cambridge allowed the lighting, most of which was from fixtures in the ceiling reflecting off the white floor and out the glass walls. Unrestricted by zoning.

Ah yes

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Got to find a way to blame the victim and make sure no motorist is EVER held responsible for driving with their head up their ass.

You wish.

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I wish I had a wall in my house that was 20'x12'.


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Cambridge/Boston is a big urban area, i.e. a CITY. It's not rural Vermont. Cities have tall buildings, 'flashy' store signs, big apartment buildings, for good reasons. If you've got a problem with being in a city/urban area, MOVE to the country. I will never understand why so many people in this area are willing to hold back vital development so they can keep everything quaint and touristy.

And please put a lid on all the 'green-space'. We don't need a million tiny 'parks' and 'green-space' in places few people end up using. How about building a decent sized park for a change,like Millennium in West Roxbury? That I understand and appreciate. How much $ was spent on that stupid Rose Kennedy 'Green-way'?

Anyway, Kendall Square would actually be the perfect place for a big plasma type outdoor screen. It would be a good place for a lot more development actually, including HOUSING. We need more non-luxury, non-section 8 'poor' housing. And if that means highrise apartments and condos, so be it.


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Kendall and North Point are the perfect areas in Cambridge to build significant high rise residential. Not the 200 foot towers that people in Cmabridge seem to think of as tall, but 400, 600, and maybe even taller. Would help to bring vitality to the streets and help on the commuting issues with the energetic commercial and innovative work being done there.

There has been much written in the local papers about how the Cambridge housing market is priced too high and building a few hundred more units won't make a difference. How about Cambridge aims a little higher in Tim's of building height and unit count. Let's say 10,000 units across all types, sizes and income levels. Make a real dent in the housing demand and start making up for years of commercial without residential.

As for the screens and the signs, some people like them, others don't, but it's a city and I think it makes it a little mor lively to have some signs of live in Kendall compared to what it was just a few years ago.

I, ,for one, am happy to have Microsoft here and would love to see a big Apple sign going up somewhere too.

The theory goes

That smaller, lower buildings and lower density bring more community to a place. A mistake of the 1960's was to build huge public housing projects where people were anonymous and crime was rampant. They got torn down to build more livable, human scale structures, people knew their neighbors, and crime dropped.

BTW, Central Square residents are fighting the 160' housing complex in the 50' height zone.

So, was that the result?

So, was that the result? Does it hold true the with the luxury condo towers and crime? Because that theory seems to be based that the crime that arise from public housing is more than just because the scale made people anonymous to each other. Unless the large towers that are filled with people 6 figure end of the income spectrum (or the middle, but all the towers seems to be either the lowest income or the highest, if there are some actually in the middle, please alert me, seriously, I can't find moderately price towers)

Cambridge impedes commuting

Its difficult to live in the burbs with a house and yard and commute to Kendall Square. Cambridge forces employers to constrict parking and charge workers for it and/or pay people to bike or take the T. Cambridge forces extra costs on the MBTA without compensating it with a fair city/town assessment.

Its OK though, plenty of employers line routes 128, 495, and 9 for those who don't want to be forced into high Cambridge residential costs to get to and from a job in reasonable time. That way, breeders living a heterosexual lifestyle can also have suburban environments to rear children.

What do children ...

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... have to do with a heterosexual life style?


I know plenty of gay and straight couples rearing kids, and plenty who have chosen not to rear kids. I know couples and parents who live in the city and in the sububurbs.

Or are you just trying to find more ways to be offensive in your obsession with your tailpipe?

Parents prefer the 'burbs

OK, anon (coward). Heterosexual lifestyle was just a play on words to poke fun of cliche Leave it to Beaver, suburban life. I know plenty of gay and straight couples who left the South End, Cambridge, or JP for suburbia. Suburbia better allows kids to play outside in yards and ride a bicycle around quiet streets and Cul de Sacs.

You mean the suburbia where

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You mean the suburbia where kids are prisoners at home or totally reliant on mom and dad to get anywhere until they get their license and a car?

How quaint.

Actually, Ragon was the guy

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Actually, Ragon was the guy who spent half a million dollars keeping a Microsoft sign off his building. The rest didn't matter to him, it was all propaganda.

Personally I'm in favor of a

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Personally I'm in favor of a "lively" streetscape, including things-to-look-at in the buildings.

The whole Le Corbusier vision of towers in plazas, blank at street level, always struck me as lovely sculpture in sketches (from 100m up in the sky), boring if not outright dreary for mere pedestrians actually using the neighborhood. Indeed I don't think they're in any way 'neighborly'. Small shops adjacent the sidewalk have always been my preferred street companions, or failing that at least interesting lobbies or into-the-building views or something other then hostile dark blank facades.

Therefore putting displays in windows, video walls in lobbies, whatever, seems to be to be at least a step in the right direction. Certainly as good as, if not better then, a view of a few puffy beige chairs, maybe a coffee table, and some 'corporate art' hung up.

As long as any video material is not Flashing. Right. In. The. Eyes. Of. Drivers. I find little to complain about.

Frankly I'd be in favor of the various companies putting out a little bit more information about themselves in their street presence (which Kendall Square biotech company is it that has interesting related-to artwork/advertorials alongside in their street frontage?) Why not a widget or two in a display case, a few lines about the company stenciled on a wall or window, so passer-bys know who they're, er, in the company of.

How about lingerie & swimwear photo shoots?

Aren't there more interesting and pleasant attractions to present with huge windows than TV screens? Examples of a company's product is one idea, but this is still thinking in the box! At least pay models to pedal stationary bikes with generators to power the displays.