Cover story: Where Futures Converge by Robert Buderi

The inspiration behind the cover design of Buderi’s latest book on innovation in Kendall Square

Robert Buderi’s new book, Where Futures Converge: Kendall Square and the Making of a Global Innovation Huboutlines an evolution of the most innovative square mile on the planet: the neighborhood in Cambridge, Massachusetts that MIT, the MIT Press, our Bookstore, and countless others—​​like Biogen, Moderna, Pfizer, Google, Microsoft, IBM, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple—call home. 

Cover of Where Futures Converge

Despite serving now as a hub for technology, the neighborhood has not always looked as it does today. In Where Futures Converge, Buderi offers the first detailed account of the unique ecosystem that is Kendall Square, chronicling the endless cycles of change and reinvention going back centuries that have driven its evolution. Before biotech and artificial intelligence, there was railroad car innovation, the first long-distance telephone call, the Polaroid camera, and much more. Buderi considers Kendall Square’s limitations—it’s “gentrification gone rogue,” by one description, with little affordable housing, no pharmacy, and a scarce middle class—and its strengths: the “human collisions” that spur innovation.

Designing a cover for such a book presents a unique challenge. “The cover of Where Futures Converge needed to show hope, inspiration, and intellectual stimulation,” said Yasuyo Iguchi, design manager for the MIT Press and designer behind the cover of Buderi’s latest. “Our initial designs were type-focused with an abstract background that hinted at technology, Kendall Square, and MIT. At one point we thought of using metallic paper—but concerns that the designs looked too much like a data science book shifted our focus to using a photograph or plan of Kendall Square.”

Shuli Sadé’s piece Evolving formations in the lobby of 314 Main Street in Cambridge.
Shuli Sadé’s piece Evolving formations in the lobby of 314 Main Street in Cambridge.

“While we searched for alternative images, our director of sales Bill Smith came across a beautiful piece of Kendall Square-inspired art in the lobby of the building where the MIT Press Bookstore shares its space,” Iguchi continued. “Clarissa Murphy, then bookstore manager, made inquiries and was able to identify the artist as Shuli Sadé. The artist graciously and quickly provided a file of her artwork, which led to a successful cover.” 

Sadé’s piece is titled Evolving formationsThe artist writes that the piece “explore[s] what constitutes a vibrant city; in essence, she questions its anatomy. The core DNA of an urban plan defines its form, function, and future.” The final cover for Where Futures Converge depicts a fragmented rendering of the iconic MIT Dome and the neighborhood surrounding it, disparate flecks of color that come together to create a cohesive image of a city in near-constant flux. 

It’s a fitting image for Buderi’s exploration of Kendall. He explores what’s next for the neighborhood, and speculates about the next big innovative enterprises and outlines lessons for aspiring innovation districts. More importantly, he asks how Kendall Square can be both an innovation hub and a diversity, equity, and inclusion hub; and, as he surmises, there’s a lot of work still to do.

Join us for an authors@mit event with Robert Buderi on May 10, 2022 at 5:30pm ET. Learn more about the event and register here.

Learn more about Where Futures Converge