Bluebird Bio Finds a New Nest

| January 29, 2014 | 0 Comments

by Mark Reed

Bright accent colors, coordinated with the corporate colors of Bluebird Bio, visually punctuate the huddle rooms in the open office environment. Photo Credit: LAB / Life. Science. Architecture, Inc.

Bright accent colors, coordinated with the corporate colors of Bluebird Bio, visually punctuate the huddle rooms in the open office environment. Photo Credit: LAB / Life. Science. Architecture, Inc.

Bluebird Bio, a Cambridge-based biotech company devoted to “transforming the lives of patients with severe genetic and orphan diseases”, recently celebrated the grand opening of its new 41,000sf R&D headquarters at 150 Second Street in Cambridge. The new labs and offices are designed to support the mission of “developing next generation products based on the transformative potential of gene therapy to treat patients with diseases such as childhood cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy and beta-thalassemia/sickle cell disease.”

Designed by LAB / Life. Science. Architecture, Inc. as part of a design-build team with The Richmond Group, AHA Consulting Engineers and Fletcher Martin Corporation, the new facility provides flexible and modular laboratory space to house a growing inventory of state of the art equipment and office space to support a rapidly growing headcount. Stacy Gilroy, Bluebird’s operations manager, led the team on a day-to-day basis.

The project was fast-paced and intense with design starting in May and achieving occupancy in December. Despite its pace, the design-build team was able to complete the work under budget, continually managing the cost and schedule risks in coordination with Bluebird’s needs for a highly responsive design.
According to Gilroy, the main challenge beyond the technical demands of the space was to minimize the potential for cultural impact on the company.  “When we realized our g
rowing team was quickly outpacing our space on Memorial Drive, we were faced with the challenge of trying to recreate the culture of bluebird in a space that is so much larger,” Gilroy said. “Every part of our former office was so inherently ‘bluebird,’ so our primary goal with the new space was to create an environment that felt like the same company from the moment you walked through the door.”
“Working with the LAB team was truly collaborative. They took the time to not only understand what we needed in an office, but also who we are as a company”, said Gilroy. Bluebird embraces an open office concept, with every member of the team, from founders to newest employees, occupying open workstations. To provide privacy and sound control, the design employs the use of huddle rooms, phone booths and 1:1 interview rooms carefully distributed throughout the open office to help create neighborhoods and sub-groups within the 150 seat office. “Early on, we identified the concept of a ‘nest’ as an organizing principle for the branding and aesthetic of the workspace,” said Stephanie Goldberg AIA, principal architect from LAB. Using lighting, materials and surface patterns loosely arranged in twig-like fashion, the design is held together by a blending and weaving of these elements into a cohesive whole. An “all-hands” cafe anchors the social life of the company, providing a variety of seating options to promote informal conversations and team groupings. The team worked closely with Total Office to integrate the furniture into the design.
Equally important to the office areas, the laboratory design provides the opportunity for the development scientists to share space with the research scientists in a large open lab at the center of the lab
oratory zone. Flanking this open area are modular closed labs that provide the specialty environments for each group. The cross pollination of the R&D worlds is intended to speed new therapies to the marketplace that directly improve the health and well-being of the patients the company is devoted to serve.
 The results of the laboratory and office design are immediately apparent as the company uses the space in a buzzing, active and highly communicative way, being encouraged to “b colorful, b cooperative and b yourself.” As Gilroy reports, “The feedback to our space has been amazing and consistent. Though it is significantly bigger, it remains true to our company and our focus on transforming the lives of patients with severe genetic and orphan diseases.”

Mark-Reed-Photo

 

Mark Reed AIA, LEED AP is a principal at LAB / Life. Science. Architecture, Inc.

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