Although the towers and the T station were built at different times, they were integrated into Cambridge's overall planning process. The goal was to encourage development at the two outer edges of the city - Alewife and East Cambridge, where the 45-acre North Point development is currently being planned. At Alewife the most basic city-building principles were envisioned: density near transit. The faltering came at the level of detail: how the buildings were laid out, their relationship to the T station, the creation of a pedestrian-friendly environment.
Many developers are trying to build these kinds of transit villages from scratch. At Alewife, the rich history of the area - named for the bony fish that Native Americans and then colonials harvested from local waterways - provides ready-made character and regional identity, so important in creating a sense of place. The highway portion of Route 2, the Red Line, and the Minuteman bike trail all terminate at Alewife. It wants to be a special destination, but it could be anywhere.