Photo © Anton Grassl
Photo © Anton Grassl
Picture © Behnisch Architekten
Drawing © Behnisch Architekten

Genzyme Center

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The Genzyme Center is located in the midst of other dynamic research institutions on a former brownfield site close to the Charles River.

The design brief required a progressive building which would represent a point of identification for the Genzyme Corporation, its employees, guests and visitors. The building accommodates about 920 individual workplaces over 12 floors. Commencing with the initial architectural competition and throughout a highly integrated design process the primary design objective was to develop a building from the inside out.

Organised as 'a vertical city' with individual ‘dwellings‘, public areas and gardens extend up to the full height of the central atrium. The open staircase forms part of a 'vertical boulevard', starting at the ground floor lobby before proceeding upwards through various neighbourhoods with open workstations and separate offices.

The interior is flooded with daylight, all workstations are naturally illuminated through a combination of re-directional blinds at the building’s perimeter and the top-lit central atrium. Above the atrium roof a sunlight redirection system with heliostats and fixed mirrors serves to further enhance lighting levels.

A prismatic ceiling beneath the skylights carefully filters the light, then disperses it into the interior of the building through reflective objects such as the sparkling 'chandeliers' and the 'light-wall'. The atrium’s role as a return air duct ensures that the chandeliers are, under the influence of thermal effects, constantly in motion, further enlivening the space.

The building has been awarded the USGBC Leed Platinum Rating and is a prime example of what can be achieved through the application of sustainable strategies in the workplace.

Lyme Properties, LLC, Cambridge, MA (Base Building), Genzyme Corporation, Cambridge, MA (Tenant Improvement)

Behnisch Architekten, Los Angeles, CA

2000, 1st prize

Planning and construction


32,500 m² / 350.000 sq.ft.

100.000 m³ / 3.531.470 cu.ft.

2008 Harleston Parker Medal presented by the Boston Society of Architects
2006 Exemplary Sustainable Building Award 3rd place presented by SBIC (Sustainable Buildings Industry Council)
2006 Architectural Record / Business Week Award
2005 LEED Platinum awarded by U.S. Green Building Council
2005 Miami Beach Bienal, Mention
2005 RIBA Worldwide Award
2005 Contract Magazine Interiors Awards, Environmental Design Category
2004 The 2004 Excellence in Design Award, 2nd prize, presented by Environmental Design and Construction Magazine
2004 AIA COTE (Committee on the Environment) Top Ten Green Projects
2004 Northeast Green Building Award 2004, Places of Work / Large Buildings, Second Place Presented by MTC's Renewable Energy Trust, Northeast Sustainable Energy Association
2004 NESEA (North East Sustainable Energy Association) Award, Places of Work, 2nd Prize
2004 AIA New Hampshire Excellence in Sustainable Design and Development Awards "Place of Work"
2004 Architectural Review MIPIM Future Projects Award, Offices Category, Commendation

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