Novartis Necco

Categories: R&D

Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research Global Research Headquarters

Cambridge, MA

• 2006 BusinessWeek/Architectural Record Award for Design Excellence

• 2006 Lab of the Year Award/Adaptive Re-Use

• 2005 Cambridge Preservation Award/Adaptive Re-Use


Project Designer: Audrey O’Hagan, AIA on behalf of The Stubbins Associates, Inc.

Client Goals

• To “invent” an interior environment that would foster the exchange of ideas and knowledge among scientists

• Emphasize openness and transparency

• Integrate interacting scientific disciplines

• Energize and inspire the scientists

• Complete the entire process in 20 months

Design Solution

To achieve Novartis’ goals, the design team had to transform the very spirit of the existing 1927 warehouse, (the place where the New England Confectionary Company “Necco” had been making candy for more than 75 years).This was done by bringing people, natural light and movement into the heart of the building in a dramatic and unexpected manner.

To foster interaction among people working in different areas of the 500,000 sf 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 and 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, one of the client’s core values.

The workplace is a fluid and dynamic collegial environment where disciplinary lines blur as well as physical distinctions between laboratories, offices and corridors. Floor to ceiling glass walls reinforce the concept of transparency and openness by creating visual connections between users who are traditionally separated.

Working as a collaborative team along with the client and users enabled the team to successfully meet the client’s goals and rigorous 20-month schedule.

The overriding design goal was to create a place that would inspire the scientists to do their best work, and today, the building houses nearly 700 scientists conducting a wide range of cutting- edge research.

“Audrey has within a very tight schedule perfectly understood the nature of our business, our aspiration for openness and transparency, and translated our values into a powerful piece of architecture that combines the needs of a cutting-edge research facility within the architectural tradition of a historic building. She has a natural talent, passion for design excellence and consistency in fighting for it.” – Global Head Research Operations, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research