Maximizing Process Research

Confidential Client
Lexington, MA

SMMA was commissioned by a long-term biopharmaceutical client to provide full architectural and engineering services for the strategic expansion of multiple research departments, including all four floors of a laboratory and office building in Lexington, Massachusetts. The approximately 146,000 sf lab accommodates the growth of the client’s AD-LEX departments and Bioprocess Development Upstream activities.

SMMA’s initial planning efforts were focused on understanding the current relationships between research departments to determine and validate space needs, critical equipment requirements, and ability of the building infrastructure to support the lab expansion. The planning team worked closely with the client’s research and planning personnel to understand the location and adjacencies of each group to maximize workflow, collaboration opportunities, and the sharing of common equipment and materials. The effort resulted in a series of comprehensive options to help the client evaluate cost, schedule, impact on existing operations, and the ability of the building systems to support the expansion based on the needs of each department. 

Doubling the Size

One of the biggest components of 200 Shire Way is its bioreactor core. The bioreactor space is comprised of large glass vessels in varying sizes that fuel a sphere of research allowing for local manufacturing and biologics to directly produce client products. The core alone doubles the size of the client’s existing facility, therefore playing a major factor in driving the overall project schedule, cost, and scope.

Process Research facility at 200 Shire Way.
  • Process Research facility at 200 Shire Way.
  • Process Research facility at 200 Shire Way.
  • Process Research facility at 200 Shire Way.

Respecting Intent

The new design focuses heavily on maintaining the building’s original intent: light and transparency. A clear line of vision is reinforced throughout the floor plan, respecting the visual connection between the office space to the rest of the building and to the natural landscape outside. The line of sight is further conserved through a full-height glass wall between the office and lab spaces, which helps link the various laboratory suites.

To further maintain the sights and views (and to ease the process of bringing utilities into the building), the building’s bioreactors were re-oriented to run across the floor plan. This new layout proved to be the least destructive to the existing layout; using a more traditional laboratory module not only helped respect the aesthetic integrity of the original design, but it also was more cost-effective and less destructive to the existing fabric, allowing the team to re-use more of the space.

Process Research facility at 200 Shire Way.

Flexible Strategies

The level of complexity and the large scale involved in this project required close collaboration with the end-users, a high level of equipment planning, and the versatility and commitment of an integrated practice to fulfill the latest research needs as they occurred. Since the client's internal budgeting was approved in separate stages, there were several schedule changes and challenges that came along with the project.

Remaining on schedule proved challenging. The lead time for custom laboratory casework during the project’s bidding was about 20 weeks, exceeding the schedule for certain aspects of construction. To ensure timely execution, SMMA re-used and moved around existing pieces of casework during the first phase of the project and was able to have the newer pieces delivered in time for the third and final phase.

The team also had to accommodate multiple pieces of expensive lab equipment — alongside one 20-foot-long unique piece of equipment — during construction. Since there was not enough space in the original design to fit all the technology required by the laboratories, they had to abruptly re-design and re-engineer the floor plan during an expedited time frame. The team also had to convert the existing office areas into additional lab space while ensuring a high quality of serviceability, cleanliness, and security for the space.

Process Research facility at 200 Shire Way.

SMMA has been working with the client for over 10 years, spanning across 25 projects. 200 Shire Way provided the unique opportunity to expand upon that working relationship due to its complexities and need for close collaboration.