Architects mix laboratories and biotech tenants’ offices

Architects mix laboratories and biotech tenants’ offices

Where does the lab space end and the office begin? It’s a question that architects and interior designers are trying to answer.

in One Charles Park And in Cambridge, Massachusetts, architecture firm SGA designed a 400,000-square-foot interior space, where the line between lab and office is blurred. Office staff have a first-hand view of the experiments being performed on laboratory benches.

It wasn’t always this way. Laboratories are placed out of sight, usually behind closed, locked doors, away from sales and marketing personnel. But in many life sciences companies today, the two disciplines are closely linked, says Carolyn Bergin, an interior designer at SGA.

“The lab users were always in the basement with no access to natural daylight,” Bergin told CoStar News. “Now life sciences companies want scientists to have the best space in the building.”

SGA, Gensler, ZGF and other architecture firms are changing how offices are designed for life sciences tenants. New hybrids are currently being developed for lab offices in Atlanta, Chicago and other markets, often at an additional cost to traditional setups.

“The functional roles of the laboratory and office are shifting dramatically from the way science has traditionally been done,” Gensler said in a September 2022 report. “Knowledge sharing within the workplace is immediate and almost constant.”

Researchers and their labs are no longer housed in the basement out of sight of the rest of the workforce, said Carolyn Bergin, an interior designer at SGA. (Ari Burling/SGA)

Interest remained high even with life sciences The market has cooled From the days when investors flocked to the sector during the pandemic and researchers worked urgently on new vaccines. In San Diego, one of the largest life sciences markets, third quarter leasing It fell to its lowest levels Within a decade, according to CoStar data. Demand fell sharply as inventory rose.

despite of Decelerationreal estate development for biotech companies remains active in many markets as landlords bet that updated designs can help a project stand out at a time when potential tenants have more options.

Trammell Crow, High Street Residential and Georgia Tech are developing a mixed-use campus in Atlanta called Science Square To include laboratory and office spaces in addition to apartments and shops.

The University of Chicago and CIC are developing a combination of laboratory and office space at the university Hyde Park Laboratories Building on the south side of Chicago. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, Invested $250 million At a new biotechnology center in Chicago.

Even in San Diego, new developments in life sciences are underway. Sterling Bay and Harrison Street began construction this summer on The first phase is worth $265 million From the Pacific Center campus.

In the new model of life sciences properties, glass is the preferred material for walls rather than solid materials. Not only does replacing drywall with glass walls create transparency between the company’s research and business functions, the design helps “create opportunities for spontaneous collaboration, support progress on the path of discovery, and build a strong community of creators,” SGA said in describing One Charles. Park on their website.

Omega Therapeutics, a developer of cancer treatments, is the largest tenant in the 107,000-square-foot One Charles Park building, which occupies the top five floors. The renovated building opened in July. Davis Cos. and major real estate investors sold the two-building Charles Park complex in January 2022, before the One Charles Park renovation was completed, to Alexandria Real Estate Equity for $815 million.

Omega Therapeutics’ office at One Charles Park in Cambridge, Massachusetts, separates laboratories from offices and workspaces with glass walls to provide transparency between both sides of the business. (Elisif Brandon/SGA)

For early-stage life sciences companies, having an office where they can showcase lab work is an important part of their strategy to bring in new funding, said Scott Barnholt, an architect at SGA.

“They’re looking to attract the best investors and they do that by bringing them in and showing them the lab,” Barnholt told CoStar News.

SGA recently won a partnership with Dream Collaborative to design a life sciences building in Innovation Square A complex in Boston’s Seaport District for Vertex Pharmaceuticals. SGA also released in September its design for Arsenal on Charles Life Sciences Project in the Boston suburb of Watertown.

Other architecture firms have taken a similar approach to mixing laboratory space with offices.

Designed by ZGF crowd In Pittsburgh, it is housed in a renovated Ford auto plant, with offices located along the perimeter of the floors and laboratories in the center, allowing for “easy access and transparency between work environments,” according to a company description. Apple and the University of Pittsburgh are the tenants.

Gensler renovated the Princeton, New Jersey, hotel. Administartive building It dates back to the early 1990s for Genmab, a Danish developer of cancer treatments. The labs are “strategically adjacent” to informal gathering areas where all employees can meet and talk.

SGA’s One Charles Park project included the renovation of a 1994 building. Because the laboratories had greater electrical power needs, SGA designed two new indoor shafts and a mechanical shed to support the greater ventilation and required mechanical, electrical and plumbing infrastructure, Bergin said.

The decision to put labs in close contact with the office can be a costly one, Barnholt said. Typically, designing an office building with lab space ready for immediate occupancy will typically increase development costs by 25% to 35%, he said.

That’s a cost that many executives at life sciences companies have decided is worth it, Bergin said.

“They want to bring their company and their entire business operations together in one place,” she said. “They want to create collaboration and interconnection between the research and innovation side.”

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