Biotech Design Trends: Existing Vacant Buildings

When it comes to increasing square footage, many biotechnology companies – both large and small – have chosen existing vacant buildings over new construction.

This trend has been strong for the past ten years in Massachusetts in particular, creating exciting opportunities for architects and engineers. Having provided architectural solutions for many life science clients myself – from small start-ups to industry leaders such as Genzyme, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, and The Broad Institute in Cambridge, MA – has taught me that two critical elements are essential to success with this type of project:

Establish Feasibility First.

The primary challenge for the architect – to understand the client’s culture and product as they are today and design a space that supports current requirements, while also planning for future needs – is complicated by the need to fit the best solution for today and tomorrow into yesterday’s infrastructure with the least amount of augmentation possible. This becomes a key issue in evaluating the feasibility of the project.

Prioritize Collaboration.

Once feasibility has been established, an energetic and effective collaboration between client, design team, building owner, and local building authorities needs to begin in earnest. This will provide an atmosphere for issues to be voiced very early in the process, solutions to be agreed upon, and therefore pre-empts expensive and time-consuming delays later in the execution of the project.

Contributed by Troy Depeiza