Advancing Adaptability at Boston Landing

SmartLabs at 40 Guest Street
Boston, MA

SmartLabs’ presence in the New Balance complex, located at 40 Guest Street in the ever-developing Boston Landing, represents “a quantum leap in bringing together the area’s leading science and technology companies in a one-of-a-kind ecosystem.”

The base building, owned by New Balance Development and housing the Celtics training areas, provides unique views of the inner-city skyline and the Massachusetts Turnpike. Its positioning also grants access to nearby public transportation and several new amenities as part of the development’s recent transformation into a bustling, urban destination.

Based on refinements from the 21 Erie Street location, SMMA helped SmartLabs design their programming for 40 Guest Street to include laboratory spaces with associated offices to support local biotechnology and research needs. Additionally, their members will have access to a vivarium and common facilities such as event space, conference rooms, break areas, showers, lockers, and a café.

This lively niche seeks to help entrepreneurs in life sciences with the development of their company and product, while providing plentiful space and the resources to grow.
Hand made models of SmartLabs lab spaces at 40 Guest Street Boston

Early Input

Before SmartLabs signed its lease at 40 Guest Street, SMMA served as The Owners Representative for the Celtics during the construction of their space on the uppermost floors of the building at 40 Guest Street. Not only did the arrangement influence the design of the Celtics training facilities, but inside knowledge of the building, systems, and infrastructure also gave the SmartLabs team an advantage on necessary planning and coordination efforts, ensuring that all floors with varied programming could function cohesively under one roof. Separate of the OPM scope, SMMA also assisted New Balance on resolving vibration and acoustical issues originating with the sports arena.


The Celtics training facility above — with its basketball courts, therapy pool facilities, locker rooms, and more — shifted into full operation by the early construction phases of the SmartLabs project. This caused logistics to drive a significant part of the project schedule: each time the design team had to maneuver ductwork from the SmartLabs floors through the roof or make mechanical and electrical modifications, they had to coordinate all efforts and approve tasks around occupied hours with New Balance and the Celtics.

Maneuvering the Braces

The building exterior and floors are supported by diagonal structural bracing, alternating in direction, lending to an impressive and modern exterior. From an interior standpoint, this bracing presented difficulties in terms of planning the tenant space. Throughout the floor plan, the braces dip below the ceiling height. They take up head room, prohibit clear walkways, and make accessibility difficult. Thus, spatial considerations and other planning elements were adapted to function around the bracing.

The bracing, when coupled with the locations of the Celtics’ pools on the fifth floor, prompted additional obstacles to the SmartLabs design team. Since the pools hang below the floor slab by approximately 6 feet, the actual amount of floor-to-floor height on the fourth floor is reduced from 18 feet to 9.5 feet under the pools. The rotated building structure and condensed height required the careful coordination of duct work, sprinklers, and lights around overhangs and partial roof sections to ensure that the completed SmartLabs space resulted in a flat ceiling and organized systems. A large gymnasium on the upper floors and a parking garage on the levels below also made this feat difficult, as mechanical systems could not run vertically over about two-thirds of the building.

Lab worker seated at lab desk in 40 Guest Street SmartLabs property
Interior laboratory space with lab workers designed by SMMA
The solution: surgically weaving systems through barriers within the various levels and strategically locating lab spaces to respond to systems placement.

Thus, on the fourth floor, all the lab spaces are oriented on the East side of the building. On the third floor, the labs wrap around the South side of the building, which is connected to available mechanical space on the mezzanine floor where necessary drainage processes could take place. All duct work coordination, construction, logistics, timing, and access had to be approved by New Balance before it could take place.

Preparing for Outdoor Amenities

One of the many perks of 40 Guest Street, the building’s height and glass curtainwall on the third and fourth floors provide unencumbered views of downtown Boston. A future roof terrace will run along the East side of the third-floor level, strengthening the outdoor connection for SmartLabs and its other members. SmartLabs has plans to convert part of the terrace into an amenity space that will serve as an extension of its interior café. To accommodate this, the design team is working on creating an additional stair to properly address the egress capacity at that level. Another design consideration for the terrace is its positioning within the building massing, which stacks — almost haphazardly — to create a dynamic silhouette. With the terrace falling under the canopy of the skewed level above, the design team is working to optimize functionality while still achieving the visual impact that New Balance desires.