Lab Manager spoke to Nick Iselin, executive general manager of development in Boston, Lendlease, and Jonathan Pearce, executive vice president, leasing and development, Ivanhoé Cambridge, about the FORUM project on 60 Guest Street in Boston, MA. The 60 Guest St. site is one of the last undeveloped parcels within Boston Landing, a 15-acre mixed-use district along the Massachusetts Pike in Boston’s Allston-Brighton neighborhood which is home to the New Balance corporate headquarters, a state-of-the-art track and fitness facility, a popular music venue, and current practice facilities for the Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. The complex is easily accessible by mass transit.
At nine stories and 350,000 sq. ft., the building’s total project cost is expected to be $500 million. Lendlease and Ivanhoé Cambridge are the developers of the project—the FORUM marks the first partnership between the two firms. Other project team members include SGA (architect), Consigli Construction (general construction), BR+A Consulting Engineers (engineer), and JLL (broker). The FORUM’s expected completion date is Fall 2024.
Q: What was the need for this facility? Is it replacing an outdated existing facility or accommodating new research/a new program?
A (Nick Iselin): As the first purpose-built life science development in Boston Landing, FORUM will play an integral role in meeting the need for premier lab space in Greater Boston, which is the nation’s leading life sciences cluster and has the highest concentration of top biomedical research hospitals and universities and is the largest biotech sector in the US. The life sciences market in Boston has experienced record-breaking leasing activity and high-asking rents.
FORUM will also establish Boston Landing as the leader of Allston-Brighton’s emerging life sciences hub, offering industry-leading lab infrastructure and a highly amenitized environment that will attract and retain top talent.
Q: What kinds of sustainability initiatives have been included in the design plan? Is the facility pursuing LEED certification or something similar?
A (Nick Iselin): FORUM is designed for LEED Platinum, WiredScore Platinum, and Fitwel certification and aligns with Lendlease’s Mission Zero commitment and Ivanhoé Cambridge’s commitment to achieve net zero carbon by 2040. The building will be net zero operational carbon upon completion in 2024.
Q: Is there anything particularly unique or groundbreaking about your facility or the design plan?
A (Jonathan Pearce): FORUM is a ground-up new build that is highly amenitized and well-located in a vibrant urban district that appeals to research talent; and it will establish Allston-Brighton as the next frontier for development in the nation’s foremost life sciences cluster.
Purpose-built specifically for life sciences, FORUM is designed by a best-in-class team of architects and engineers that have extensive experience with the scientific community, giving them unparalleled insight into the specifications needed to ensure the building meets the requirements of the market both today and in the future.
Accommodating a ratio of 60 precent lab space to 40 percent office space, FORUM is uniquely positioned to embrace the neighborhood’s athletic heritage by facilitating teamwork and collaboration through a dynamic mix of public and private areas that encourage innovation and integrate the development with its surroundings. FORUM’s vibrant public realm includes an outdoor plaza that connects to a community living room on the ground floor, designed to accommodate a variety of gatherings from small meetings to larger social events. An adjacent lounge area, café, and curated art gallery will welcome and engage building occupants and visitors alike.
The FORUM development team is also partnering with MassBioEd, a nonprofit education foundation, to foster workforce development across the life sciences industry. FORUM’s common areas will host programming, helping area students and career seekers to learn about life sciences and develop skills that will help them move into careers in the field.
Additionally, FORUM will partner with local artists and showcase their work in a public gallery on the first floor and select common areas throughout the building.
Q: What sorts of challenges did you encounter during the design/build process, and how did you overcome them?
A (Nick Iselin): It was vitally important to the development team to design a building that would be a positive contribution to the neighborhood, to the industry and to the environment. We turned the traditional lab building design inside out to make it open, accessible and compatible with the surrounding neighborhood, while still meeting or exceeding life sciences industry standards. And we were firmly committed to doing that in an environmentally responsible way. The building will be net zero operational carbon upon completion in 2024, which is challenging with the high-capacity infrastructure and energy requirements these facilities demand.
Q: If a similar facility or program were to look at your lab for inspiration, what do you think they will take away as an example of what they should also implement in their own lab?
A (Jonathan Pearce): We believe that FORUM is a cutting-edge building designed for Boston’s boundary-pushing life science firms. Labs tend to be closed off from their surroundings, but that can make it challenging to recruit and retain talent who prefer brighter, more collaborative environments with access to a curated experience—from restaurants, transit, and other neighborhood amenities. For that reason, FORUM is designed to integrate with its surroundings, with a first floor that opens to the adjacent streetscape and is programmed with a community living room, café, and art gallery that invite people into the building. This mix of public and private spaces balances accessibility with security, ensuring tenants have complete control over their own environments without being isolated for the entire workday and providing places to recharge.
A similar facility or program could look to FORUM for inspiration in new features and amenities that help create a vibrant atmosphere for innovation. FORUM is not just a place to work—it’s a place to create, collaborate, and connect. The amenities are being optimized in and around our building in order to deliver convenience to our tenant partners so they can concentrate on their important work.
Incorporating workforce training that supports the next generation of life sciences professionals is a great source of inspiration. At FORUM, the development team is partnering with MassBioEd, a nonprofit education foundation, to foster workforce development across the life sciences industry. Attracting and training talent coming out of nearby academic institutions adds to the region’s innovation economy.