From Chaos to Clarity

Foundation Medicine
Cambridge, MA

Foundation Medicine is a molecular information company dedicated to transforming cancer care. The company has a full suite of comprehensive genomic profiling assays to identify the molecular alterations in a patient's cancer and match them with relevant treatment approaches based on these insights. Through its molecular information platform, Foundation Medicine aims to improve day-to-day care for patients by serving the needs of clinicians, academic researchers and drug developers to help advance the science of molecular medicine in cancer.

Foundation Medicine commissioned SMMA to provide architectural, interior design, graphic design, MEP, and structural engineering services to renovate their space at 150 Second Street in Cambridge. SMMA sought to assist Foundation Medicine with expanding operations, increasing work space, and amplifying its brand identity.

After reviewing a brand identity study (and consequent brand refresh) that Foundation Medicine worked on to create more consistent messaging and to further its storytelling, SMMA saw this project as a perfect opportunity to amplify Foundation Medicine's mission in a new way. Foundation Medicine would suddenly be able to take its space standards and elevate them with bold environmental graphics from the refreshed branding materials, aligning perfectly with “The Relentless Pursuit of Better” that the brand identity study sought.

Curious Carpets & Flexible Spaces

The design team outfitted the renovated space with large break areas, conference and huddle rooms, flexible teaming areas, updated workstations, and private offices. Monochromatic lockers add playful and accessible storage for a mobile workforce. A geometric patterned carpet unifies the space and reinforces FMI’s angular brand aesthetic, while other subtler carpet patterns break up the scale of the space. 

Slate, Fire, Sea, and Mint

Moments of blue, orange, and teal on the furniture, carpets, and workstations bring variety and align with Foundation Medicine's brand’s color palette.

Above all, the space is built to be flexible—accommodating the multigenerational, international workforce’s needs—and able to grow and change along with Foundation Medicine.

24/7 Integration

The floor below Foundation Medicine was occupied by lab space, so the engineering team had to be mindful when designing the mechanical systems. To avoid disrupting the labs during implementation, it was critical to maintain close coordination with the contractor working within the ceiling of the floor below.

Though the 24/7 labs provided a unique challenge when designing the routing of the sanitary piping, this fast-tracked project benefitted greatly from SMMA's integrated model—having all engineering disciplines readily available and contributing from the onset of the project.

From Chaos to Clarity

A significant aspect of the design challenge for the team was to interpret Foundation Medicine’s brand guidelines and findings from its identity study to create an environment imbued with a story: “from chaos to clarity.” 

The identity study included interviews with cancer patients willing to share their personal experiences. These testimonials described the feelings of chaos and overwhelming despair following their diagnosis, summarized as “The Monster." To fight each patient's "monster," physicians sought to gain insights into the patient's genomic information to find the right pathway and treatment approach.

With this powerful story in mind, from the strife at diagnosis to the clarity of a pathway to fight cancer, SMMA created a custom, web-like “chaos” pattern that seamlessly joins up with the vertices of Foundation Medicine’s preexisting triangular pattern. This imagery is ever-present in the space to remind the staff of the patient-centric mission that guides them.

The Foundation Medicine Workplace

SMMA was able to create an enriched environment with brand touchpoints that introduce inspiration throughout the space. The new office makes use of every square foot, incorporating mission-driven design that will help Foundation Medicine plan for the future of advanced genomic testing.