Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research

Cambridge, MA

Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (Novartis) engaged renowned architects/artists Maya Lin and Toshiko Mori to create the vision for a new 795,000 sf US Research Headquarters for the company. The project included the construction of two new connected high-rise buildings designed to create an inspirational research environment. In addition to new lab and executive office space, the expanded campus was designed to bring vibrancy to the area and to help link Kendall Square and Central Square in Cambridge, MA with a significant new central plaza with green space and street-level retail.

Novartis engaged Leggat McCall Properties to provide strategic consulting and project management services. In this role, LMP led the permitting process, contract structuring, procurement strategy, value management, and financial reporting throughout execution.

The project required LMP to work collaboratively with a diverse range of stakeholders. Though its ambitious design was initially met with opposition by some, LMP was ultimately able to lead the entire team of client representatives, designers, engineers, contractors, and subcontractors to collaborate and find solutions to achieve the designers’ collective vision. The process required a high degree of coordination and a significant amount of perseverance. The resulting complex is a remarkable combination of state-of-the-art wet laboratories, technical building infrastructure and envelope, innovative collaborative workspace, and inspirational common areas for both executives and researchers.  The unique stone screen wall that wraps the front of the building is just one of its key artistic features. The project also had the challenge of incorporating a tunnel under Massachusetts Avenue to accommodate utilities between neighboring Novartis facilities.

With two designers and a local architect-of-record, Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QAQC) was a critical design consideration. It was important to continuously evaluate all documentation with both the designer and the local architect to ensure that the designers’ artistic vision was properly interpreted. These review meetings facilitated the flow of information among the team members and ensured that the original intent was preserved and properly detailed in advance of purchasing. This approach avoided change orders and reduced the risk of schedule delays.

The project had ever-evolving programming needs along with its ambitious design goals. LMP actively managed costs to avoid unnecessary changes, while still incorporating new technologies and requirements. The team worked collaboratively throughout the project to continually find and implement innovative ways to cut costs or shorten the schedule. For example, the team proposed and implemented a modular approach to MEP fabrication, delivery, and installation – delivering MEP systems to the site in 40-foot trailers, testing them on the ground, then hoisting them into place.  The process required a high degree of coordination, but it saved time, labor, and money.  LMP was able to further conclude that although modular fabrication worked well for one lab tower, traditional MEP installation was more cost-effective for the second because of a greater need for programmatic flexibility in those particular labs.

The resulting complex features collaborative research space, broad visual connection between lab and common areas, cross-floor communication, a full auditorium, vivarium, NMRs, robotic drug analyzers, a uniquely high-performance curtain wall, and a three-MW cogeneration plant.

Image: © Anton Grassl/Esto


Project Highlights

  • Size: 795,000 SF, 400 parking spaces
  • Property Type: Mixed use -- Ground-up Construction/Laboratories/Office/Parking/Retail
  • Year started/completed: 2011/2015
  • Owner/Client: Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR)
  • Architect: Maya Lin Studios / Toshiko Mori Associates / Cannon Design
  • General Contractor: Skanska USA
Services Rendered:
  • Project Management