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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Genzyme Center plans the future

Among the Cambridge office buildings lies the enviorment’s next ally in the fight for the future
Article by: Ethan Long

Inside Boston and the surrounding areas, buildings pop out of the ground on every street. Many of these buildings can be looked over, with nothing that makes them special. These buildings house an array of things, from dormitories to music halls, stores, and offices- Yes, offices, the boorish, linear work environment that is the bane of many middle-aged American’s existence. One office building in Cambridge, however, has become a building of notice. Walking towards the Genzyme Center, one might pass through the gravel lot across from the beautiful glass building.

The Genzyme Corporation, an innovative biotech company, started production on their Genzyme Center building (located in Kendall Square) in 2000. The corporation, founded in 1981, sought out an architect who would not only make them a good building, but would also be able to make the most efficient one. Stefan Behnisch was hired after presenting the corporation with plans of a building designed around the employee experience. Behnish came from the German firm of Behnisch, Behnisch, and Partner, whose environmentally-influenced designs have made a name for them.

The building itself is the corporation’s headquarters. When one walks in, they view not a patterned building with ceiling tiles and lights every few feet, but an oasis in the middle of a business park. The interior of the Genzyme Center is literally reflected from the building’s exterior. The lot, which was once a condemned industrial waste site, now houses a building that the United States has even deemed great for the environment.

“The building emphasizes our willingness to take some risks, to innovate and to spend in a responsible way,” said Henri Termeer, CEO of Genzyme Corp, in a 2004 interview for the Boston Globe. “It’s innovative in an environmental sense. It’s green building on what was a brownfield site.”

The building features many different aspects that all count towards a greener site. Visitors to the building can pick up a booklet, or look through one of the many informational kiosks around the building for detailed descriptions for all of them. Some of the features include the building’s lighting, water system, and gardens around different floors.

On the roof, heliostats, or large mirrors, follow the sun’s path while it travels across the sky. The mirrors reflect sunlight onto other mirrors, which then direct the light down into the building’s main atrium. Inside of the atrium, a chandelier, made of animated prismatic tiles, transfers the light around to the building’s different spaces.  A computer that tracks the sunlight also helps point the various mirrors and tiles towards the right way.

The plumbing system in the building includes dual flush toilets and waterless urinals. Still, water is a main component of the beauty of the building. The first floor lobby contains a fountain that looks like liquid metal in front of you, and at a company named “Genzyme,” one might not be surprised if a Terminator suddenly popped out at you. The building feels like the future.

There are a total of 16 gardens throughout the building, including on the roof. Water systems are in place to stop overwatering. The trees and other plants around the building have name cards detailing what kind of plant it is, and where it is from.

The Genzyme Center and Genzyme Corporation have done their best to truly produce a building that makes people want to think about eco-friendly choices in life. Along with the state of the art building, the company also encourages its workers to take the MBTA, carpool, or ride their bikes to work. The building includes bicycle storage, which some of its 900 employees use daily.

In 2005, the US Green Building Council named it a LEED-NC Platinum Building.

The building is open for the general public to give self-guided tours. Kiosks around the first and second floors also give virtual tours.

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    Cat LecciaMar 31, 2010 at 9:24 am

    Nice post 🙂
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Genzyme Center plans the future