Novartis Institute for BioMedical Research
Description: Renovation / Research and Laboratory
Client: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Architect: Maya Lin, Cannon Design and Toshiko Mori Architects
Location: Cambridge, MA
“From sweets to science” is how the lead architect describes their project that transformed an aging 500,000 square foot candy factory (New England Confectionary Co. “Necco”) near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in Cambridge, MA, into a world-class biomedical research center. Swiss-based Novartis, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, chose to renovate the building to house the headquarters for its research activities. Since the U.S. National Park Service designated it as a Landmark structure, any exterior renovations to the Necco building were limited, right down to the window mullions. The architect found that they could pretty much gut the complete interior of the building to create an environment that would encourage, foster, and facilitate collaboration and the exchange of ideas among the resident scientists. To foster interaction among people working in different areas of the facility, a new six-story, amoeba-shaped, atrium was created at the building’s center. It is a dynamic hub of social and intellectual exchange among users, that contains break rooms, conference rooms, libraries, and kitchenettes, all woven into a fluid continuous space. The atrium is bathed in natural light and animated with four cylindrical glass elevators, which are a metaphor for transparency.