Fostering Collaboration in Research Facilities: Biogen Case Study
Roger L. Spears, AIA, O'Brien/Atkins
Sustainability Begins With the Creation of a Community
The objective of this poster is to graphically illustrate the value
of creating a tangible sense of community within a corporate research
organization through architectural design. Once established, this
spirit of cooperation and collaboration will offer a firm foundation
for all manner of initiatives that benefit the organization, the
greater community it serves and the environment that sustains them
Biogen BIO 24 is a research laboratory designed for Biogen and
is located on the Cambridge-based company's 150-acre site in Triangle
Research Park, North Carolina. The 152,000 square foot building
houses approximately 150 research scientists engaged in the development
of pharmaceutical products.
As an essential component of its enlightened corporate philosophy,
Biogen has initiated a series of design practices that encourage
the development of a tangible sense of community within the facilities
it commissions. Such practices include the creation of generous
collaboration and consultation spaces in the midst of the building's
working laboratories. Staff members are encouraged to gather throughout
the course of the workday and share the ideas and insights that
arise from their work. The design of an architecture that engenders
such enriching activities is the focus of this presentation.
The significance of these strategies is their potential to promote
a more productive, humane workplace. Natural day-lighting and exterior
views are introduced into every lab space. Breakout rooms and public
gathering spaces are appointed with contemporary artwork, comfortable
furnishings and attractive, inviting finishes. General building
amenities, including conference areas, refreshment lounges, recycling
areas and mailrooms are all centered about a dramatic four-story
atrium which floods the building's interior with indirect sunlight.
An adjoining spiral staircase unites departments on the building's
various levels and stands as a symbolic recognition of the company's
commitment to the well-being and sociability of its staff and researchers.
These strategies are illustrated with a series of photographs of
the work environment, accompanied by architectural plans and diagrams
Out of the Sense of Community Comes Involvement
People who work in a supportive, nurturing environment that encourages
cooperative participation are far more likely to support environmental
initiatives both within the organization itself and beyond.
The poster will illustrate that as a result of these amenities
and features, Biogen anticipates a corresponding enhancement of
worker productivity and innovation, better employee satisfaction,
higher morale, improved staff retention and most important, personal
involvement. Not coincidentally, a well-adjusted employee outlook
also enhances facility safety, attention to sound building management
practices and in short, a much more productive and efficient work
The premise underlying this poster is Biogen's realization that
even the most wisely designed and prudently engineered sustainable
environment will not succeed without a supportive and committed
workforce. The success of Biogen 24 begins by creating a coherently
integrated community of individuals who are then empowered to best
promote the resources of the company and the natural environment.
The presentation will conclude with the company's plans for future
expansion of its research site, extending these concepts of holistic
community building to the scale of a small cityscape.
The poster will include graphs that suggest both the expected and
realized benefits of this design strategy.
Biogen 24 has been designed with in accordance with these aspects
of the Labs 21 Approach:
1. Whole Buildings Approach
- The building is specified to include high efficiency lighting,
pumps and chillers.
- Heat recovery on once through air systems
- Variable frequency drive on all fans
2. Lifecycle Costs
- All major HVAC systems selected for the project were analyzed
in terms of their lifecycle costs. Decisions regarding initial
fit-up costs were tempered by this analysis, resulting in an overall
more energy efficient mechanical system.
3. Equipment and Controls Commissioning
- A system-wide commissioning review has been implemented
4.Sustainable Energy Efficiency Strategies
- Modular equipment, high-efficiency chillers and variable frequency
fans are employed to enhance energy efficiency
- Energy recovery strategies have been implemented for once through
- Daylighting is optimized, particularly in laboratory areas.
- Water-efficient sinks and toilets are specified.
5. Green Construction Materials
- Recycled-content and low toxicity materials are specified.
6. Operations and Training
- Limited promotion of energy and water efficiency efforts have
been undertaken at present. Future plans call for more expensive
programs to be developed as the masterplan reaches as critical
population of users.
7. Beyond the Building Site
- A conscious decision was made to provide structured parking
for the facility, a choice that reduced the site's percentage
of impervious cover and minimized runoff, improving community
water quality downstream. Wastewater from the parking facility
is passed through an oil/water separator to ensure the preservation
of water quality in the vicinity of the project.
Not available at this time.