Box 1. FINDING THE SWEET SPOT: NOVARTIS
CONVERTS OLD-SCHOOL CANDY PLANT
TO NEW-SCHOOL BIO LAB
1 Boston Globe, reprinted in Pharmaceutical Online
( http://www.pharmaceuticalonline.com/doc/candy- coated-0001.) 2 Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research
DESIGNING FLEXIBILITY 5
It’s unlikely that the founders of the New England Confectionary Company (makers of the iconic Necco
Wafers) could ever have imagined that their sugar-coated-candy plant, built in 1926, would become a nexus of
leading edge bio-pharmaceutical research less than a century later.
But that’s exactly what happened. In the early 2000s,
Challenges in decommissioning from food manufacturing. The $175 million Novartis project moved
Novartis Pharma AG purchased the aging brick facility,
located in the heart of Cambridge, MA, and transformed
it into a state-of-the-art research headquarters for the
Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. The shift
reflects a broader change in Cambridge’s economic base: once the center of the US candy-making universe,
the city is now home to the American science and technology brain trust known as Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, along with a significant concentration of technology and research firms.
forward within a tight, two-year time frame and involved an unusual decommissioning process: removing
sugar residue from the building’s floors and walls. It meant cleaning the old-school way—with bleach and hot
water, a process documented in an article about the conversion project in the Boston Globe 1.
Community outreach and historic preservation. While careful attention was paid to preserving the
building’s unique exterior—the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places—new construction
has a decidedly twenty-first century sensibility. This balance is reflected in the company’s approach to the
water tower that tops the former candy plant, which had been painted to look like a roll of NECCO wafers.
“The tower became an instant landmark on the Cambridge skyline and has become an important part of the
city’s architectural fabric,” notes a history of the facility compiled by Novartis 2.
To preserve the landmark and demonstrate the company’s reputation as a good corporate citizen while
identifying the tower with the building’s new uses, Novartis ran a local design competition, soliciting ideas to
repaint the tower, incorporating the Novartis color and logo. The competition drew more than 500 entrants,
and the winning design was painted on the tower.
Other notable adaptive re-use efforts include the conversion of the original power plant that had coal-fired
boilers into a 20,000 square foot amenities building, which houses a 180-seat, fully-wired auditorium and a
Rebates for green upgrades. Novartis also was awarded $850,000 in rebates for installation of energy-
efficient materials including individually air-controlled fume hoods, high performance light fixtures and high
NOVARTIS INSTITUTES FOR
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