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Case Studies  > Genzyme Center Is Distinctively Efficient
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Photo Courtesy: Behnish, Behnish & Partner
In 2000, Genzyme, the world’s third largest biotech firm, set out to create a signature building to serve as a hub for its global business and home to 900 employees. The structure had a mandate: stand as a reflection of the company’s core values, including innovation, and set a new standard for environmentally sensitive architecture.

Architects Behnisch, Behnisch & Partner designed Genzyme Center using a concrete frame superstructure, a flat slab floor system, and a concrete core for lateral load resistance, creating a building that optimizes energy use, minimizes the effect on the environment, and fosters a healthy atmosphere for tenants.

The 12-story, 350,000-square-foot office building recently opened in Cambridge, Massachusetts’s Kendall Square neighborhood. A concrete structural system, chosen in large part for its environmental merits, played a key role in bringing the building to life. The design is a composite system using precast and cast-in-place elements. Traditional reinforced cast-in-place concrete of varying depths is tied the precast elements by welded wire trusses that are partially embedded within both components.

One of the strongest benefits of using concrete for the structure is its inherent thermal mass. At Genzyme Center, much of the concrete is exposed, providing a passive heating/ cooling benefit that helps reduce energy costs; the building is projected to consume 38% less energy than a comparable conventional structure. The Center’s design also takes advantage of maximum daylighting, with a large glass curtain wall façade. An indoor atrium provides natural ventilation and an open space where gardens mingle with structural elements, uniting modern touches with natural beauty.

Concrete is one component in an overall commitment to sustainable design and construction on the project. The building is part of the transformation of a contaminated “brownfields” site. Employee-friendly features including operable windows and natural lighting will reduce energy costs. Additionally, 75% of all construction material contains recycled content.

Genzyme is registered with intent to apply for Platinum certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. If successful, Genzyme Center will be one of the first commercial office buildings to achieve the platinum certification, setting the bar for future large-scale projects.