Undergoing a significant transformation, work and research environments are rapidly redefining themselves. Capturing the spirit of urban environs within a bucolic campus, the Novartis Oncology Building is a key component of the transformation of the company’s North American Headquarters. The intention of Novartis is to bring in a level of urbanity to the campus to create an architectural setting that amplifies the frequency of programmed and spontaneous interactions, and in doing so supports innovation and creativity within the collaborative work environment.
As part of a comprehensive master plan by Vittorio Lampugnani, this building reimagines the paradigm of the building as a box. Providing 140,000 square feet of office space for Novartis’ oncology division, it’s one of three new office buildings on the campus, which includes designs by Rafael Viñoly and Fumihiko Maki. Sited within a new campus landscape designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the building draws in the adjacent landscape by “carving out” an ascending spiral of public spaces.
The Office Building is designed to operate within a strict geometry proposed by the master plan. Activated by a restaurant on the ground floor, five floors of open office work areas above are connected by an ascending spiral of “living rooms” with continuous vistas to the generous 230-acre campus. Marked by wood finishes, column-free spans, and low-iron glass, the living rooms provide a clear and continuous space for formal, informal, and spontaneous collaborations. Furnished with custom Weiss/Manfredi-designed wingspan chairs that bring tactility and definition to double-height spaces, these living rooms serve to domesticate the office building typology and introduce an alternative spatial rhythm to the workplace, providing a range of micro-environments. To achieve the column-free expression within this space, the upper floors of the building are structurally suspended from 100-foot long plate girders at the roof, cantilevering 30 feet in each direction off of two central cores.
Located adjacent to the living rooms, open office work areas are comprised of workstations, conference rooms, and enclaves arranged around the central core. These fully-glazed interior conference rooms and smaller enclave spaces allow for privacy within the open layout without disconnecting occupants from daylight and the activity of the floor. Twenty-four by thirty-foot structural bays impart the clarity and coherence of the open floor plan, furnished with custom-designed workstations at an 8-foot module. The workplace is organized to enable evolving operations for the 350-person workforce in which team size and composition vary over time. A raised floor within the open plan office space allows for flexible workstation organization. The centralized cores allow for workstations to be no more than 30 feet from the exterior façade, providing natural daylight and views for all occupants.
A custom-designed unitized aluminum curtain wall with soft, oscillating bands of acid etched, fritted, and reflective glazing welcomes daylight and reflects the surrounding landscape. The reflective nature of the façade produces a chameleon-like effect, translating the chroma of the ever changing environment onto the massing of the building, creating a reading of solidity in contrast to the void of the low-iron glass curtain wall along the living rooms. Situated at the Town Square of the campus, the placement of the building facilitates connectivity to both the landscape and the neighboring office buildings, allowing occupants from multiple sectors within the campus to gather in a new collaborative working environment.