Virtual-reality model of the Vertex facility | Courtesy BNBuilders

Construction Complete on 170K-SF R&D Facility

Carrie Rossenfeld Office

Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc. (ARES) and BNBuilders have completed construction on Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ new research facility at 3215 Merryfield Row in San Diego. The companies involved in the development process celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 18.

Vertex’s new facility was developed by ARES, with the building shell designed by LPA with interiors designed by DGA. The center joins BNBuilders’ expanding portfolio of facilities for leaders in the biotech, health, and life-science industries.

Boston-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals is a biotech company focused on creating transformative medicines for people who have serious diseases. The company has had a research-and-development presence in San Diego for more than 15 years. Its San Diego research team is responsible for the discovery of three breakthrough cystic-fibrosis medications: Kalydeco, Orkambi, and Symdeko.

Vertex’s new building in Torrey Pines is at the heart of San Diego’s biotech community. The 170,000-square-foot facility is double the size of Vertex’s former space and can accommodate 250 employees. Within the LEED-Gold–certified building, 70 percent of its space is dedicated to laboratory/research activities. The building is designed with interior walls of glass, allowing the laboratories and ongoing scientific research to be seen throughout the building. The site has a 1,500-square-foot learning lab for STEM education programs, a 4,000-square-foot incubator suite for external collaboration, and an air-circulation system designed to bring in 100 percent outside air, the highest quality available.

Also, in honor of the discoveries made by its San Diego research team, the building’s lobby features a stunning art display of 12 cystic fibrosis protein strands. With each strand measuring 10 feet tall and 10 inches in diameter, the strands allow visitors to interact with the art display through tactile touch.

BNBuilders and Vertex used virtual reality during the design stage of the project to review the functionality of laboratory spaces. According to BNBuilders, the Vertex team found such high value in experiencing these modeled spaces, they expanded the service to additional areas, including a variety of labs, common spaces, the lobby redesign, and several of the architectural features.

Ross Brown, project executive at BNBuilders, explains, “The virtual reality was a tremendous benefit to the Vertex team. It helped the board of directors and site lead to finalize decisions and make impactful changes to the building. And, compared with traditional static renderings, Vertex had an 80 percent cost savings by substituting with our in-house virtual-reality services.”