SMMA’s Marie Fitzgerald and Jonathan Merin Co-Host CoreNet Event

Large dining and cafe area at Olympus HQ in Massachusetts

Last month Marie Fitzgerald and Jonathan Merin, SMMA’s Corporate and Commercial Studio Leaders, led a virtual tour of Olympus’ new Westborough, MA campus for members of the New England Chapter of CoreNet Global.

The new building, designed by SMMA and opened to fanfare in March 2021, serves as Olympus’ U.S. medical headquarters and unifies the company’s three previously separate Massachusetts locations under one roof. Fitzgerald and Merin guided CoreNet members through the campus virtually, showing how the design brings together the varied needs of employees, medical students, and clients.

“We came to understand that Olympus has [historically] been about taking things and bringing them together,” said Merin. “This building is taking things that really weren’t together at all, integrating them together, and trying to bring them to the next level.”

Merin went on to address the challenges of integrating a wide range of R&D lab spaces on the second floor: 

“The range of labs in this building runs the full gamut. It’s everything from a full electronics lab that you’d find in software development to a full wet lab that would dwarf any pharma laboratory. That’s a unique thing. … This runs the full range, and that became a great challenge for this building and to make sure that all the systems we had in it could fully accommodate a lot of these functions coming together.”

The tour also explored the new HQ’s shared workspaces, which focus on increased collaboration: “[Olympus] didn’t really have current workplace standards,” said Fitzgerald. “They were a little shy on collaborative spaces. We were able to work with them to develop those new standards … to show them what was out there and come up with new sizes and add different program elements.”

The generous range of amenities, which include a daycare, cafeteria, and fitness center, were also highlighted. “It’s amazing the amount of amenities that are offered to these Olympus employees,” said Fitzgerald. “We’ve had daycares in other projects that always get removed, [but] they put in this great daycare.”

Another speaker was Steven Wereley, Olympus’ Global Corporate Real Estate Lead. Having overseen real estate projects on a global scale, Wereley was keen to stress the significance of the new Westborough campus to Olympus’ mission:

“I can’t understate how big a step this was for us, both in our journey of rebranding [to a medical devices company] and our new corporate strategy, but from a real estate and facilities standpoint as well. It’s shifted the conversation. … It’s been really exciting, and to be honest with you I had no idea this would be such an impactful project when I started.”

Olympus’ move to their new medical HQ coincides with a hiring surge at the company. Wereley emphasized the firm's goal of potentially expanding the campus on its eastern side, praising SMMA’s designers: “The cafeteria area, the daycare [and] the fitness center were all sized with a secondary building in mind just in case. So again, some great design forethought from the SMMA team, putting us in a really great position should we continue to grow as we’re hoping to.”

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was raised by several CoreNet members in the Q&A session. In response, Wereley stated that the project’s original goals remained intact: “The design vision that Jonathan and Marie had for this building really stood true throughout COVID. … The initial concept of creating a large number of collaborative spaces, diverse types of collaborative spaces, and even the shared service functions – these are reasons why people will come to work post-COVID.”

The whole session can be viewed via the video below: