As the scientists of the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Broad Institute continue the battle of scientific revolution, Boston Properties is providing them with a powerful new battleground: the new, 250,000-square-foot Broad Institute Building, due for completion in early 2014, at 75 Ames Street. Jeff Lowenberg, vice president of development at Boston Properties, says the much-needed consolidation of employees and flexibility are the main drivers in the building’s design.
The Broad Institute currently leases space in the Kendall Square area of Cambridge, and Broad employees work in four different buildings. “[The new building] will quite literally bring the Broad community together,” Lowenberg says. “This is a unifying project for the institute.” Once completed, the new building will be joined with the Broad Institute’s 7 Cambridge Center location via a connector that will extend from floors two through seven. Aesthetically, the new building will use finishes and lab casework similar to that of the 7 Cambridge Center location. “Our goal is that if you walk from one building to the other, you will find the same look and feel,” says David Erlandson, director of facilities planning and operations at the Broad Institute. “We wanted a design where it appears to be two buildings side by side, and yet, when you walk through the connector from one building to the next, the transition is seamless, and it’s clear that both buildings are Broad buildings.”
One of the project’s key design goals was to maintain a high level of flexibility. “We made sure that we had a significant amount of infrastructure to support lab operations and the ability to adapt and act nimbly as our scientific efforts grow,” Erlandson says, highlighting the team, which included Elkus Manfredi Architects of Boston and BR+A Engineers, which provided mechanical engineering, telecom/data, and energy modeling services. The building features a built-in mechanical expansion space to accommodate the potential need for additional mechanical support. This space added an extra floor to this stage of the design, but it will make the building flexible for the years to come. “Ultimately, we want the building’s innate flexibility to distinguish it from other institutions,” Erlandson says.
The project has had its challenges. The building already contains 5,474 tons of steel; this is before adding other materials to the exterior and interior. Also, a large portion of the new building has been constructed above the adjacent public parking garage but will be structurally independent from the garage, which Lowenberg says makes things quite complicated. To resolve these issues, 62 mini-piles were drilled beneath the existing garage to support twelve 80-foot supercolumns that support the lab floors above the garage. Months of planning and careful execution of the garage work was necessary to maintain the lab building schedule while keeping the garage open during construction.
A major challenge for the project was an extremely small site. “It’s about 16,000 square feet of land for a building that will include 250,000 square feet of research and office space, creating a gross square footage of about 375,000 square feet.” To reconfigure the traffic flow around the construction site on busy Ames Street, the team spent a great deal of time setting up jersey barriers, rerouting sidewalks and bike lanes, and creating a work zone in front of the building.
The building has a 30 percent water reduction through the reuse of wastewater from the labs’ RODI water treatment system, which is a reverse osmosis lab system that circulates water. For each gallon of water, a small amount of wastewater is produced. Instead of being discarded, the wastewater is stored in a tank and then reused in cooling towers on the building’s roof. The new building also will be equipped with water-efficient plumbing fixtures, including faucets in the lab and water-efficient toilets in the restrooms. Low-VOC materials were chosen for carpeting, adhesives, paints, and some furniture. By installing this broad range of green elements, which also includes punched windows, energy-efficient condensing boilers, compressors that generate compressed air, and LED exterior lighting, the building will see an estimated 20 percent energy reduction as compared to the strict energy building code required by the City of Cambridge.