Unique facade systems for two interconnected, but distinct, research buildings on pharmaceutical company Novartis’ Biomedical Research Campus.

Multinational pharmaceutical company Novartis chose architects Maya Lin and Toshiko Mori to design two interconnected buildings in an extension of its campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which acts as the centrepiece of its worldwide research operations. Eckersley O’Callaghan played a significant role in the facade design of both buildings.

The Maya Lin facade comprises 290,000 square feet of a distinctive, randomly perforated natural stone screen, hung from a unitised aluminium curtain wall system. We were instrumental in resolving the stone design and a supporting stainless steel structure, which assembles the individual stone panels into mega-panels that are fixed to the curtain wall behind and then fixed to the primary structure using conventional brackets. This innovative approach allowed the cladding contractor to save considerable assembly time on site.

Our initial engagement with Toshiko Mori for the facade design of Building 613 was brought about by disappointment in the visual mock-up of terracotta louvers. We carried out a materiality study to present several alternatives, finally settling on a unique system comprising weaved bronze fabric encapsulated within laminated glass blades. We also designed an elegant louver carrier system that could be applied to the custom unitised curtain wall without compromising either aesthetics or thermal performance. Silicone bonding was used to avoid mechanical fasteners within the glass elements.

We were able to work within strict budgetary constraints by researching suitable vendors for the specialist glass and bronze weave louvers, which ultimately enhanced both the building’s appearance and shading performance.