Through its annual Best Workplace Awards, CoreNet Global New England recognizes workplace projects that demonstrate innovation in design, use of real estate, functionality, and technology that support an organization’s mission. CoreNet recently honored the 80,000 square-foot build-out of 301 Binney Street in Cambridge for the Broad Institute with a Best Workplace Award, based on the project’s demonstrated contribution to core business functionality based on the following criteria:
Support of continually evolving institutional research programs. The design at the Broad provides maximum ability to respond nimbly and cost effectively to programmatic changes over both short and long term durations. In the short term, entire lab spaces can be reconfigured to accommodate changes in research, new equipment, or new faculty or staff. In the longer term, the overall design distributes core support spaces in ways that permit a variety of science activities to be located relatively easily in various parts of the floor.
Support of the research initiatives of individuals and teams. Ultimately, a successful work environment must satisfy individual needs in addition to institutional needs. At the Broad, the design evolved from a “3D Programming” process that identified and assessed core elements to balance stability with flexibility, equipment and room requirements, and the interaction of culture and process with the individuals working in the lab. The result was a design that places as much emphasis on the spaces outside the labs as inside.
Integration of collaboration and transparency. To address internal and external collaboration, which is central to the Broad’s mission, user groups are clustered around “Scientific Living Rooms”, conversation areas equipped with soft-seating, open work tables, and sometimes a kitchen, located along main pedestrian arteries throughout the building. Floor-to-ceiling glass keeps an integral connection between the scientists and the lab, supporting the Broad’s goal of scientific transparency, while allowing the penetration of natural light deep into the workspace.
Maximization of available real estate. The building housing this new workspace was not originally intended to support laboratory environments. Two disproportionately long and narrow spaces – each about 50’ x 450’ – formed the shell of usable floor area. The design takes advantage of these linear proportions by creating a “street-like” plan organization that inevitably requires occupants to interact with as many people as possible as they move along the internal routes of circulation.
Commitment to meet the project budget / business needs. A successful design not only supports the users’ needs, but meets business demands and constraints such as cost and schedule. Constructed in 22 weeks, this project was designed and delivered ahead of schedule and under budget, due to the collaborative design process and the project teams
’ commitment to our client’s bottom line. Specific activities designed to fast-track the project, such as Design Assist and innovative programming, engaged not only the client, design, and construction teams but also the sub-contractors, tradespeople, and landlord.
Using constraints to improve design. Conceived without knowing which user groups would ultimately occupy the space, the layout had to be general enough to accommodate all groups, yet adaptable enough to support the specific, highly-technical demands of the unique user groups which would eventually move in to the space. In this particular case, the design and the occupants both benefited from the programmatic constraints – with a flexible lab layout – as well as from the proportional space constraints – with a street like fabric building a scientific community.