Boston’s Fenway neighborhood has become an “eds and meds” neighborhood and a hub for life science companies. This is due largely to the presence of nine colleges and universities and proximity to the adjacent Longwood Medical and Academic Area, home to 21 medical and academic institutions.
Margulies Perruzzi was retained to retrofit 20 Overland Street in Boston, transforming it from Class B office space into a highly desirable location for a variety of life science tenants. Repositioning the 202,167 SF building for a new and more demanding use required upgrades to its infrastructure to enable demolition of the adjacent building, core and shell upgrades to the first and second floors, and most significantly, a combination of upgrades to and replacement of existing mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems (MEP) to handle the additional loads imposed by laboratory facilities.
The building had been a vehicle manufacturing plant during World War II, and consequently has substantial floor-to-floor heights, ample fenestration for natural light, and plenty of structural capacity. While beneficial, the latter added a level of difficulty when it came to accommodating penetrations for plumbing. The former factory was also equipped with two large freight elevators, which became irrelevant when the building use changed. The design team repurposed one of the shafts as thoroughfares for routing new chilled water, HVAC exhaust ductwork, and generator conduit runs from the first floor and second floors to the roof instead of running these utilities down the side of the building, which is a more common solution.
Based on the structural capacity of 20 Overland, the roof did not need reinforcement for the additional new HVAC equipment, which included supplemental condensing units for cooling and lab exhaust fans. Dunnage—a structural platform for mechanical equipment—was added to support a new lab emergency power generator. Due to seismic design constraints, diesel fuel to power the generator could not be stored on the roof and instead is stored in a specially-design tank room located in the basement.
Upgrades were also made to the lobbies and entrances at both the Overland and Burlington Street entrances to entice more foot traffic in front of the building and to connect with future public circulation. The improvements have already attracted new tenants: Margulies Perruzzi recently completed a 60,000-square-foot interior fit-out for Strand Therapeutics.
Not every building is suitable for conversion to labs. In this case, strategic discussions with the landlord took place before and during the design process regarding future flexibility, building and fire separations between 20 Overland and 109 Brookline, limitations on lab control areas, maximizing available space for lab use, and implementing renovations while minimizing disruption to existing tenants.
Owners thinking about making a similar investment must consider the prospective building’s adaptability to the new use. Zoning, local codes and ordinances, building location, and site amenities such as ease of circulation, access to public transportation, and available parking are all important factors. From a physical standpoint, buildings that have generous floor-to-floor heights, structural integrity, presence of essential utilities, capacity for enhanced utilities, flexibility to appeal to different types of tenants, and availability of first floor space for chemical storage, are prime candidates for repositioning.
Margulies is an award-winning architect, community leader, real estate industry mentor, and philanthropist who has made a difference in the communities where he lives and works. After serving as Fidelity Investments’ manager of real estate design, Margulies founded Margulies & Associates in 1988. Now known as Margulies Perruzzi (MP), Margulies has grown the firm to one of New England’s top architectural and interior design firms, focusing on workplace, health, science & technology, and real estate development projects. Margulies strongly believes that people are deeply affected both by their workplace and by where they live, and that architects can contribute enormously to making businesses more successful and their employees happier. His clients recognize the value of this expertise, resulting in commissions to design and strategize on many exciting and provocative headquarters projects. Margulies is also involved in a number of volunteer efforts, most notably working on behalf of Boston’s Wharf District Council to develop waterfront resilience to rising sea levels, and on designing and building cost-effective modular micro-units for the homeless.
The well-deserving 2023 winners will be honored at the in-person Awards of Excellence Gala on April 27, 2023 at the Westin Boston Seaport District.
WELL APs have successfully passed the WELL AP exam, an assessment based on the expertise of leading practitioners in the field of design, health, and wellness in the built environment. Developed using GBCI’s rigorous test development best practices, the WELL AP exam is designed to test a candidate’s knowledge and proficiency in building wellness and the principles, practices and applications of the WELL Building Standard.
What was your most important professional accomplishment or most notable project, deal, or transaction in 2022?
Joining Margulies Perruzzi, a firm I’ve admired for many years, as Director of Science Strategy. In this role, I am responsible for lending my expertise to projects, managing and recruiting staff, and developing new client relationships. With an extensive science portfolio, Margulies Perruzzi specializes in life sciences, medical devices, research and development (R&D), and manufacturing projects. Margulies Perruzzi has worked with a wide range of industry leaders, including IQHQ, Strand Therapeutics, Azenta, Avencell, Boston Scientific, and many others. The culture is collaborative, engaging, and fun. I feel very supported by leadership and look forward to 2023.
What emerging trends will drive investment and development in 2023?
The Greater Boston life science and science/technology real estate markets plateaued this year from previous years; however, it’s still an exciting time. Several new lab buildings will be coming online in the next few years, and we are seeing an increased demand for manufacturing and cGMP facilities. Mergers and acquisitions will be prevalent in 2023 as some smaller companies may see the need to join forces with larger established companies.
My focus was on corporate interiors and workplace design before getting involved with our Science & Technology studio. I get to keep the workplace strategy while adding in technical aspects associated with labs. I recently worked on a 50,000 SF space with a 60/40 lab/office split. I had the opportunity to play with lighting and coloring to facilitate wayfinding through the open labs.
It was fun to push the design by creating a connection between lab and office supported by glass walls, allowing a clear visual into the lab from the office, and vice versa.
BOSTON – November 17, 2022 – Margulies Perruzzi (MP), one of New England’s most innovative architectural and interior design firms, announced today that its Founder and Principal, Marc Margulies, FAIA, LEED AP, has been named one of the Power 50: Movement Makers by the Boston Business Journal (BBJ). An annual list of Boston-area businesspeople who are making the biggest impact on the region, this year’s honorees were celebrated at an event on November 16 at Tuscan Kitchen in the Seaport. A special section of the BBJ’s print edition will feature the honorees on November 18.
Marc founded Margulies & Associates in 1988. Now known as Margulies Perruzzi (MP), Marc has grown the firm to one of New England’s top architectural and interior design firms, focusing on workplace, healthcare, science & technology, and real estate projects. MP was ranked #16 on the 2022 list of architectural firms published by the BBJ.
When it comes to shaping the city’s future, Marc’s influence goes beyond building design. He serves as president of the Wharf District Council, a nonprofit made up of businesses and residents on the downtown Boston waterfront. Those property owners represent the front line to address the flooding that’s occurring as climate change worsens. That subjects them to not only great risk, but also greater responsibilities. The actions they take to protect themselves from flooding will help the rest of downtown. Marc is spearheading an initiative among the council’s members on how to join forces to protect the coastline. To this end, they have created a Climate Resilience Task Force and commissioned a study to recommend options ranging from a network of barriers to elevating waterfront properties to hold back rising Boston Harbor waters.
Marc believes passionately in the importance of using his resources, both as an architect and concerned citizen, to create a better community. For many years, Marc’s personal philanthropic focus has been the issue of homelessness in Greater Boston. Marc has been involved for more than 30 years with Heading Home, Inc., one of the Boston area’s largest agencies devoted to helping the homeless. He has served as both volunteer and Board Chair, applying his architectural skills and experience to advance the goal of ending homelessness. Recently, Marc has been working with the Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance to develop modular micro-housing units in the program called “A Place to Live.” Working with a variety of agencies (most notably the South Middlesex Opportunity Council (SMOC) in Worcester), MHSA has advocated for the construction of buildings of 18 to 24 units that are purpose-built for adults who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness.
Marc is a regular speaker at CoreNet, IFMA, CBA, and other industry organizations whose missions include educating those involved in corporate and institutional real estate about important advancements in workplace design. His involvement with these organizations, through speaking and leadership, has focused on elevating the importance of the architect’s voice in conversations that increasingly involve many competing specialists.
Leasing lab space in the metro Boston commercial real estate market – one of the top three in the country for life sciences – can present a journey into the unknown for companies emerging from the incubator stage or any growing company not familiar with the construction process. On any trip into unfamiliar territory, a road map is a requisite tool for helping a traveler steer clear of wrong turns, unexpected hazards, and costly detours. For companies seeking the most ideal space and lease terms for their lab facilities, market knowledge and early programming are the roadmaps to a successful project.
Cresa Boston’s Q2 2022 market report on life sciences juxtaposed low vacancy rates in Cambridge with higher rates between Route 128, the inner suburbs, and Boston. Class A building rents in Boston and Cambridge averaged $100 to $125 per square foot, but lab space is more than twice as expensive to fit out in an existing building than office space. Cresa also advised: “With occupancy delays becoming increasingly common, upfront due diligence on buildings, infrastructure, and the team are critical in staying on schedule and budget.” That’s precisely where lab programming and planning come into play.
Basic Program Information
A commercial real estate broker obtains basic information from prospective tenants to narrow down available options during the site search. This includes location, approximate square footage based on full-time employees, future growth, and desired building infrastructure and amenities. Understanding square footage and amenities are important because although the tenant will only occupy the usable square footage, it is the rentable square footage – a percentage of the property’s common areas – that is used to calculate the lease amount. Many times, lab architects are asked to do preliminary lab layouts or a test fit to validate the client’s space needs and to confirm the client’s overall program and space requirements.
Extending beyond preliminary test fits, lab programming can help determine the client’s needs regarding location within the building, sometimes requiring the lower floor levels of a building, ensuring construction type classification and building infrastructure will meet the client’s needs and comply with all applicable federal, state, and local codes, regulations, and ordinances.
Unique Programming for Lab Space
Planning for lab versus office space is different for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the use and storage of hazardous materials and chemicals. Due to the nature of the work and type of equipment, labs also require increased security and flexible design; place higher demands on HVAC, electrical, plumbing, emergency power, and structural systems; and need generous plenum space for ductwork and piping, requiring higher floor-to-floor heights.
During programming, the lab planner and/or architect will collect and analyze data from the client and specific end users that will not only provide a foundation for the lab layout with respect to square footage, adjacencies, equipment and furniture types and sizes. It will also establish lab and support space standards, identify building system performance criteria, and validate the owner’s existing facilities program strategies.
Timing is Everything
Whether a start-up moving on from incubator space or an established company looking to expand, the time to partner with an experienced lab design professional is as soon as the need for new, more, or different space arises. Identifying the client’s real estate needs is the key to finding the right building and leasing the appropriate type and amount of space necessary to meet their short and long-term business goals.
Total 2021 billings may include international projects in some instances. Mass. architectural billings refers to billings for architectural projects only performed by the firm’s Mass. office(s) for projects in Mass. only. Total 2021 architectural billings refers to billings for all architectural projects performed by the firm, in Mass. and elsewhere.
What advice would you offer to women getting into the CRE industry?
Be a sponge. The biggest mistake I see young designers make is expecting too much responsibility too soon after starting out and listening too little. There is so much to learn from experienced architects and interior designers. This is one reason the field of design is based on apprenticeships. Find veterans of the industry who want to share their knowledge and experience. Practice humility, listen, and of course, work hard. These are the best ways to grow your career.
What trends will dominate your industry in the coming months?
The biggest trend right now is flexibility as it relates to the re-shaping of the office post-pandemic. The hybrid model is still the way of the future, but this concept is still evolving as demand from the workforce increases. The most important thing right now is allowing as much flexibility as possible whether it be through versatile furniture, accessible technology, or even rethinking what the physical office environment what the physical office environment looks like for your company. We are, still, as a workforce learning, adapting, and assessing this new hybrid work environment and for us designers and workplace strategists, it’s an exciting time.
What trends will dominate your industry in the coming months?
The pandemic has altered healthcare design, advancing pre-existing technology to aid the current need. I believe telemedicine will make further advances within the next few months to allow in-house treatment between both physician and the patient. Online video and tele-conferencing have also influenced the healthcare industry, allowing the education of medical staff at all levels while saving time and money.
What has been your biggest challenge and how have you faced it?
Healthcare is constantly evolving, and it is important, as a designer, to evolve with it. Our role as architects and interior designers is to be the bridge between new technology and client needs. It’s imperative to stay up to date with trends and adjust how to plan and design a space to not only fit current needs, but future needs as well.
Control areas are a tool to compartmentalize a lab building so that the amount of chemicals being used is code compliant, and if a fire occurs, its spread can be minimized. Multiple control areas are desirable in both new and existing buildings, but this can be achieved in numerous ways.
When a life science company is looking for space, they should work with their environmental health and safety (EH&S) vendor to develop a list of chemicals that will be used in their laboratory. A wet lab with hazardous and/or combustible chemicals and gases must be evaluated by an architect for such factors as the availability of space on the lowest floors of a building, construction type classification, sprinkler and/or fire suppression systems and the ability to comply with the National Fire Protection Agency Codes.
There are three distinct codes that need to be considered when designing control areas, including the International Building Code (IBC), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 45, and NFPA 30.
With IBC, the enclosed area is a control area defined as “spaces within a building where quantities of hazardous materials not exceeding the maximum allowable quantities per control area are stored, dispensed, used, or handled.” NFPA 45, “Standard on Fire Protection for Laboratories Using Chemicals,” is the industry’s comprehensive source for requirements for the fire-safe design and operation of laboratories to avoid injury to lab occupants. It outlines the maximum allowable quantities of liquids and gases, as well as requirements for ventilating systems and chemical fume hoods.
The enclosed area is the laboratory itself, and is divided into hazard levels A, B, C and D based upon the amount of chemicals that are in use. NFPA 30, “Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code,” provides fundamental safeguards for the storage, handling, and use of flammable and combustible liquids and, in short, includes a system for categorizing liquids as being flammable or combustible.
Diminishing Chemical Use on Upper Floors
With new buildings, determining the construction type (IBC Types I-V) dictates the control area strategy, which is based on the required fire resistance rating and separation distance for occupancy groups B and H, under which most research labs are categorized. In modern lab buildings, where each floor typically gets at least one control area, the amount of allowable chemicals decreases for each story above the ground floor per code due to the increased difficulty of access by the fire department.
Above the seventh floor, control areas are limited to 5 percent of the chemicals that can be used on the first floor. In past projects designed by our firm, providing a two-hour fire rating to the floors and the supporting structure has been successful in providing the maximum possible number of control areas. This provides the most flexible control area strategy which benefits both tenants and landlords who want buildings that will serve as laboratories for the long term.
For an existing building renovation, a careful review of existing conditions, including as-built drawings and invasive partial demolition, is required to confirm that the floors are rated to allow for separate control areas on adjacent floors. When the floors aren’t rated – this includes the gap often found at the edge of the floor slab – there are alternatives to consider. The gap at the edge of the floors can be infilled to create a two- hour rating and add extra fireproofing to columns and beams.
Another alternative is to create three distinct rated storage rooms on the first floor of the building. The latter alternative, which takes advantage of the higher capacity of chemicals permitted to be stored at lower levels, treats the rest of the building as a single control area, thus limiting the amount of chemicals a tenant can use. Tenants switch chemicals in the building between their storage area and laboratory as they need to use them.
In either new buildings or building renovations, the chemical usage of tenants needs to be monitored on an ongoing basis. Tenants are responsible for securing chemical use licenses annually and building owners must maintain a chemical use permit that matches their tenants’ licenses.
BOSTON – September 20, 2022 – Margulies Perruzzi (MP), one of New England’s most innovative architectural and interior design firms, today announced the addition of four new professionals to support the firm’s growth in its healthcare, science, and real estate practice areas. MP is pleased to welcome Ronald Ashton, AIA, LEED AP; Bayley Forgues; Jess Hamilton; and Shruti Kumar, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP.
“We have continued to grow our healthcare, science, and real estate studios to meet the increasing demand in the Greater Boston area and we are proud to welcome these four new employees to our team,” said Daniel Perruzzi, AIA, LEED AP, principal and partner at Margulies Perruzzi. “They bring a broad range of skills and experience designing a variety of projects, and they understand our firm’s focus on creating high-quality design and workplace strategies that support our clients’ business goals.”
With decades of experience, Ron has honed his skills on multiple project types, including science/technology projects, medical/hospital renovations, core and shell facilities, tenant improvements, fit-outs, and building repositioning projects. Ron excels at problem-solving with expertise to synthesize client requirements into innovative architectural solutions. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Architecture from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and is a member of the Boston Society of Architects (BSA).
As a recent college graduate, Bayley is focused on assisting the interior design team at Margulies Perruzzi with project space planning, material selection, and presentation development. Bayley earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design and Architecture with a minor in Studio Art from Endicott College. She has been a volunteer firefighter for over eight years and brings a background in fire science with her to MP.
Jess is a project manager in the science studio with over 15 years of experience leading a diverse portfolio of projects, including life sciences, corporate interiors, retail, and building repositioning located throughout the New England Region. He has proven experience efficiently navigating the unique aspects and needs of a wide variety of design challenges. At MP, he provides his guidance, attention to detail, and technical know-how to each project to achieve a successful outcome and overall client satisfaction. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering Technology from the Wentworth Institute of Technology.
Shruti brings over five years of experience as a project captain and architectural designer. As a job captain in the healthcare studio at MP, Shruti is responsible for assisting the project team with design as well as coordination between consultants and the architectural team. She received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University in India and a Master of Architecture from Kansas State University. As a LEED AP BD+C and WELL AP accredited professional, Shruti is well-versed in the evidence-based connection between design and health.
Since its founding in 1988, MP has evolved into an award-winning design firm that creates buildings and workspaces that inspire creativity, attract and retain talent, and enhance mission engagement. The firm collaborates with clients in the corporate, professional services, healthcare, science/technology, and real estate communities to design productive and inspiring work environments.