The Edward M Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate

Rafael Viñoly Architects is proud to announce the groundbreaking ceremonies for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States, situated on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Boston. This historic project will stand beside the existing John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, encouraging visitors to explore both buildings. The new facility will house participatory educational programs designed to engage the public in our system of government and heighten awareness of the U.S. Senate’s role in the government. The design is targeting LEED Certification.

The facility will consist of roughly 40,000 square feet of program space, comprised mainly of classrooms, educational exhibits, and a representation of the Senate chamber. The Institute’s overall site plan has been designed to work in harmony with I.M. Pei’s neighboring John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. The design includes an innovative composite cladding, which wraps the exterior of the chamber representation. The cladding is visually separated from the 1-story volume by a ribbon skylight, which runs above the ground-floor exhibition space.

The completed development will boast a large expanse of outdoor public space, guiding visitors to the entrance of the building. This public green space is bordered by two triangular volumes, which define the entry to the building and geometrically connect the Institute to the JFK Library. The exterior open space is a link between the Institute, the JFK Library and the University of Massachusetts Boston campus, while also acting as a connection to the waterfront and Boston Harbor Walk. The entrance approach is designed to incorporate components from each of the 50 states and enhance connections between the building and the entire nation.

Within the Rafael Viñoly Architects designed building, Pentagram Design has developed the initial concept for the exhibits and visitor experience. The Institute experience is intended to immerse visitors in how the Senate operates, how laws are created, and what it is like to be a Senator. Geared towards children, students, and adults alike, the Institute will provide a tremendous educational resource about the Senate and its history. It is an important addition to the cultural and political life of Massachusetts and the United States.

The Senate chamber representation is the heart of the Institute, and will facilitate innovative educational programming, such as an immersive multi-player social experience, activated by 100 interactive desks, bringing participants deep inside the legislative process. Created in collaboration with game designer Eric Zimmerman, this role-playing experience will guide groups though historically accurate events, with the visitors determining the outcome. Highly social by design, these immersive activities will enable participants to engage in negotiation, debate, caucuses and votes. The Institute will also feature a recreation of the actual office of Senator Kennedy.

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