• Huge pyramid photo
  • Thought box with question mark, thought box with lightbul

Discovery of Ancient Pyramid in Cambridge Ignites Controversy over Development, Land Use, etc., etc., etc., etc.

Discovery of Ancient Pyramid in Cambridge Ignites Controversy over Development, Land Use, etc., etc., etc., etc.

Cambridge's newly-discovered ancient pyramid sparks heavy discussion, controversy over land use, infrastructure, trees, and - yes - PARKING!

“I don’t know how no one noticed this huge structure right here in the middle of Cambridge, all these years!” exclaimed Jeremy, a resident of Cambridge for 55 years. “It’s huge!”

It’s actually 730 meters high, with a square footprint of 450 meters. Pretty huge, indeed.

Well, it’s been discovered now: An ancient pyramid, right here in Our Fair City. And after the blush of pride, shock, and wonderment wore off – in about seven minutes – controversy over the use and very existence of this magnificent structure erupted all around the City.

“There’s zippity-doo-dah infrastructure in terms of plumbing and electricity in this structure,” bemoans Genevieve, of the Public Department of Good Works. We’ve gotta do something about that. This building is way over here in mid-Cambridge, but, if it’s zoned for housing or something like that, we are going to run a sewer line through East Cambridge’s Gore Street residential neighborhood, just to try to tie that protected enclave into the magnificence of this ancient history. We’re sure the neighborhood will be honored.”

Some controversy has arisen about whether or not to protect the ancient pyramid as an historic building. “It’s gotta have historic preservation. We really can’t use it for anything that would in any way change the façade or anything about this building. It’s pretty historic,” asserts William, long-time resident.

“Naw, it’s not necessarily the thing to do,” disagrees Chris, also a long-time resident. “Everything that exists is historic. My JEANS are historic, for goodness sake! I got them used from Boomerangs Store, Cambridge. I’ve got the receipt to prove it! Everything is historic, and everything is equally important.”

“I couldn’t care less,” said Vic.

“I don’t know what we should really do with this structure. It does cast a huge, pointy shadow over the neighborhood, which isn’t ideal,” notes Renee from the Commission for Growth and Structuring. “I’m surprised the neighbors haven’t complained about this situation. Or, actually they have complained about the pointy shadowing, but they didn’t know it was coming from an ancient pyramid. Who would? Actually, I think that's endearing.”

“Snow slide could be both a real joy and a true hazard,” smiles and then frowns Allison, of the Public Department of Good Works. “Kids can use it slide down and have great fun during the winter, but that sliding snow on such pyramid angles can pose a true hazard for tourists and passersby. A helmet distribution kiosk would be in order around the perimeter. I think I’ll propose that for Participatory Budgeting next year. I think that’s a great idea.”

One major, true headache: No one knows who owns this structure. This causes a problem in terms of property responsibility, snow removal responsibility, tax collection, and such like. “It seems to be a rather long-term absentee owner situation,” sighed Meghan, Lead Head of the Department for Assessing Property and then Taxing It. “Now that the pyramid has been discovered, we are reaching out loosely to abutters who might, possibly know who owns this structure. Perhaps they saw someone go there in their mind’s eye, carrying incense, or coming out moving huge, stone furniture. We’d like any clues you might have. Only once we know who owns it can there be movement in discerning a purposing of it.”

The idea of turning it into a living or functional space concerns Jackie from the Disabled-but-Whole Persons Which is Absolutely Going to Be You Someday Commission. “There’s no way the outside inclines would meet the ratio of length to height code for wheelchair use. Impossible. There would need to be an entire assessment done of this pyramid to ensure accessibility. Does it contain the requisite braille signage? Are there grab rails in the bathrooms? Are the grab rails close enough to the wall that someone’s arm can’t slip in between the rail and the wall and hurt someone? Did the events therein provide ASL interpretation? Of course, though, if it’s a Religious organization, it wouldn’t need to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) - religious exemption - but it would need to comply with Massachusetts Architectural Access Board (AAB) regulations. Kind of hoping it was a public sound studio or even a gambling casino so it couldn’t be exempt. Just sayin’. But, either way, I’m sure there’d need to be renovations to this building to bring it up to pyramid code.”

One proponent of preserving the ancient pyramid as-is is Lorna, a member of Cambridge’s citizen group Mystical and Quasi-Mystical Places in Cambridge. “This pyramid is all about mysticism. The triangle, the point at the top, it’s very mystical and mysterious. And that’s if it’s real. But even if it’s got some fiber board inside, it’s still quasi-mystical, and our group would petition to keep it. We would fight tooth and nail. We would protest with posters. We would. You betcha.”

“Social justice, in all its forms. We have to remember social justice,” remarked Elaine, long-term resident and activist since in-utero.

“It’s definitely not using the overhead sky maximally. That’s one issue for our Board,” says Steve, an important appointed member of the Cambridge Board of Change is Hard. “You can see how it seriously narrows into a point as it goes up. Trying to make apartments in that space would be impossible. And the Floor-Area-Ration (FAR) would decrease as the floors go up, making it seriously hard to provide a variance, were the discovered owner or representative to seek a variance. I love variances more than I loved my grandmother Sadie, but I’m sorry, I’m going to have to recommend denying a variance for this building. But the owner could appear before us, all stiff and dusty and wound with disturbing, loose gauze, and argue that they have Use by Right to continue its use, and they’d have a strong argument, which we’d discuss at length as a Board, but we’d be sure to have medical personnel on hand for the poor soul.”

“It seems so obvious to me that we should repurpose this pyramid for the production of solar energy,” jovials sunbaked Sunny Jo, founder and organizer of the citizens group Cambridge for a Solar Existence and Wheat Germ. “Planking solar panels all over the sides would be so easy, making use of the angles of the pyramid sides, and then lifting the whole pyramid up onto a rotating Lateral Solar Rotisserie would be a cost-effective way of helping Cambridge become energy independent with net zero within a few years. Wheat germ is also great.”

“I gotta say what we’re all thinking here. We all know what we’re thinking about, right? I’m just going to say what everyone is thinking about. Two words: Parking spaces,” groaned Cambridge’s Wacky Parking Problem Department’s Annabelle. “We really can’t afford to keep this huge structure here, prohibiting hundreds of parking spaces and causing Neighborly Contempt Syndrome (a real disorder, actually, and you can read about it.) I’m not saying it should be a parking garage, but I am saying we need parking spaces, and we deserve parking spaces, and we like parking spaces, and we dream of parking spaces. I know I’m saying what everyone thinks. Unless you walk or bike.”

“I love this pyramid,” delights Andy of the Biking with Wheels citizens group. “Now that we know it’s here, we can use it as one heck of a landmark for bike directions!”

The Cambridge Walkers Philharmonic, a citizens group of people who walk around the city and also play music, fully supports the preservation of the ancient pyramid,” says Lily. “It’s easy to find, fun to walk around and sing around. We also assume there’s some sort of labyrinth inside which would be great for walking, meditation, and we are absolutely going to ally with Lorna’s group Mystical and Quasi-Mystical Places in Cambridge.”

“Thank you, Lily! Talk with you next week,” shouts Lorna. (Hugs happen.)

“I’m thinking we gut it, very quickly, like NOW, and make a terrific emergency shelter,” suggests Phil, director What-If?, of Cambridge’s emergency services department. “All the other shelter buildings we have are newish and made of wood, maybe brick, but nowhere near as thick and indestructible as our ancient pyramid. Why not use it to its best advantage to help save as many Cambridge residents as we can when Day One hits us this Thursday?”

“Trees. Pyramid-friendly trees. Keep that in mind. Cambridge has lost an insane percentage of its tree canopy, and we need to wonder whether we need an ancient pyramid or we need trees,” reflected James of the citizens group Oxygen Now.

“Ya’ know, we don’t even know if this building is authentically a pyramid that’s really ancient. We don’t know. It could be 80,000 years old, or it could be a six month-old knock-off, faux stone on the outside, press wood on the inside,” notes Olive, CEO of Cambridge’s not-for-profit We’re Just Not Sure about Anything, a think tank that isn’t sure about anything.

And it’s true. We just don’t know. Yet.

The city awaits the deployment of a dreadfully expensive consultant from the Organization of Ancient and Faux Pyramids to come around and do a full assessment of this humongous structure. Only then can a viable discussion and exploration happen about the future of Cambridge’s own ancient pyramid.

But given the dispute over what to do with the ancient pyramid, the City went ahead with great vigor and conducted a survey, asking residents what they think should be done with this structure. Here are the important results from 80,000 resident responses:

- Turn it into condominiums for angled people: 22%
- Make it into a green building, plant kale, parsley, etc., all up the sides and down the other sides, and have it harvested by residents who register to do the harvesting: 40%
- Re-purpose it into an arts and entertainment, calling it The Poundry, making use of echoing-as-music: 23%
- Do nothing. Leave it. It’s good. Love it!: 14%
- I don’t care: 1%
- Tear it down and sell it for maximum profits and then build a parking garage: 1 alarming person

As you can see, there are a great many opinions about what to do with Cambridge’s newly discovered ancient pyramid. If you would like to participate in deciding the future of this possibly historic, shadow-casting, destination-helping, life-saving, social justice, garden-growing, accessibility-positive, owner-mysterious, maybe mystical, walking hazardous, trees, sky-above-underutilizing, infrastructureless structure, please apply to join the Pyramid Working Group and have your say!