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Simmons gift to enhance Vassar Street

A major new gift from the Richard P. Simmons family will enable MIT landscape architects and planners to realize their design for a bicycle-friendly, pedestrian-scale Vassar Streetscape west of Massachusetts Avenue, President Susan Hockfield announced to the MIT Corporation on Friday, June 9.

"We are grateful to the Simmons family for their important, generous and timely gift. Completing the Vassar Streetscape will do more than unify the MIT campus architecturally; it will also enhance the quality of student life by encouraging members of the Institute community to walk or bike beneath the new trees on Vassar Street," said Hockfield.

Vassar Street East, connecting Main Street to Massachusetts Avenue, now features a cycle track, new light fixtures and new young trees.

Vassar Street West, running from Massachusetts Avenue to Audrey Street, will offer a cycle track, new light fixtures, new Lace Bark Elm trees, chosen for their "canopy" effect once grown, and a crosswalk, complete with a speed table, in front of Simmons Hall. The West Garage and Annex will be maintained for parking. Construction of the new streetscape will take about two years.

Richard P. Simmons (S.B. 1953) and his family have previously provided major gifts in support of student life and learning initiatives at the Institute. In recognition of their generosity, MIT named the student residence on Vassar Street, built in 2002, in honor of Simmons' late wife and philanthropy partner, Dorothy Simmons.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 14, 2006 (download PDF).

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