The 75/125 Binney Street project consists of two buildings that contain 380,000 GSF of flexible laboratory and office space in Cambridge’s Kendall Square. The project is part of a masterplan including seven buildings and Rogers Street Park, a large public park located on the site directly north of the building site. Building height constraints dictated in the masterplan meant this building would be a full city block in length. In an effort to break down the overall length of the building, our team inserted a public atrium into the building near its center. The atrium space, created through the conceptual “pulling apart” of the building, allows access through the site from neighboring buildings to the new park. The five-story 8,000 SF glass enclosure will serve as an all-season amenity space to the building occupants and public.
The atrium is designed to feel like an extension of the exterior landscape design at the ground floor. Natural materials and textures are used on the ground level to reinforce the connection to the exterior landscape. The same granite paving and free form planter beds designed for the exterior also exist inside the atrium. The planter beds read as large voids within the field of the granite, which is related to the “pulling apart” concept of the atrium. Tenant lobbies, conference rooms and breakout spaces were located directly adjacent to the atrium. The result is an active hub with a combination of formal and informal meeting spaces for use by building occupants on each floor. In the upper tenant spaces, selective apertures in large white walls facing the atrium allow for privacy while still maintaining a visual connection between conference rooms and the atrium.
In an effort to maximize the visual transparency of the atrium, the glass walls and roof are supported by a minimal, lacelike structure. To visually tie the tropical plant beds to the atrium’s structure, the design team developed a number of vertical trellises which are suspended in tension within the atrium. These vine armatures are stainless steel mesh which allows tropical vines to climb from the plant beds at the floor to the glass ceiling. The result is a space rich with natural light and shadows. Okawood glazing units were used for the glass walls between tenant spaces and the atrium. We selected this material with integral wood inserts because it offered an appropriate amount of visual privacy while still affording the tenant spaces views into the atrium as well as diffused and warm natural light.
Inside the atrium is a large red spiral staircase inspired by the Ariad logo. Ariad is the main tenant of the building and brought their individual touch to the building.
The atrium’s interior bridges span the open volume and connect the building at each of the upper floors. The bridges are clad in dark metal panels, with linear wood ceilings on their underside, matching balconies which are found periodically along the street façade. Electrochromic glass was used for the roof of the atrium. This glass is able to change from clear to dark with a minimal electric charge. As a result, the glass can reduce solar heat gain in the warmer months and allow the sun to warm the space in the winter, while always maintaining views to the sky. This system is controlled automatically by the building management system and adjusts throughout the day to maintain a comfortable temperature within the space.