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Biogen Idec's corporate campus almost complete

Hundreds of employees relocating to new site

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One of the most exciting projects to be built in San Diego in many years is open for business. Biogen Idec's "West Coast center of excellence," which sits on Nobel Drive just west of Interstate 805, will soon be the workplace for hundreds of biotech employees.

A rendering of Biogen Idec's business campus on Nobel Drive.

"Move-in will be spread over the next few months," said Tony Badeaux, executive director of development for Cisterra Partners, Biogen Idec's development partner in the massive project. "By the end of the year, Biogen Idec will have consolidated its work force into the new campus."

Biogen Idec (Nasdaq: BIIB) currently houses employees in multiple locations in north San Diego County. The Nobel campus will bring together the administrative, lab, and research and development staffs. A second facility currently under construction in Oceanside will house the manufacturing plant.

Cisterra Partners and Biogen Idec have created a business campus for the biotech giant that will be second-to-none in terms of functionality and beauty. The project was honored by the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP) as the 2003 Project of the Year. Cisterra Partners was named Developer of the Year also in 2003.

Paul Draper, Biogen Idec's senior director of facilities, took the lead in the planning process and devised a collaborative process to expedite the project and effectively "confirm information and also allow a clear decision making flow" without forsaking fundamental planning.

Key members of the company's senior management -- including Executive Chairman William Rastetter -- from several key functional areas such as strategic planning, finance and facilities came together to form a project steering committee. Senior management from Cisterra Partners also joined in.

The committee met with the various company departments to determine the facility needs and ultimately hired HOK Architects to complete programming and design. After reviewing several design options developed by HOK, Cisterra and Biogen Idec selected the "Arroyo Plan" because an arroyo runs through the center of the campus following the natural typography.

Turner Construction was brought on board to build the campus. Preparation of the building site commenced in October 2002 and building construction was started in February 2003.

The Arroyo Plan focuses on connectivity among the buildings while retaining some of the natural characteristics of the site, including rolling hills and canyons. Natural light is utilized extensively, especially in the labs where it is typically a rare commodity.

Sitting on 43 acres, the project includes two office buildings, two labs and a commons building totaling nearly 348,000 square feet. The facade of the buildings features three different colors of sandstone, giving each building a look reminiscent of and Italian hill village.

An elevated glass bridge spanning the arroyo connects the administrative buildings with the lab buildings. Just off the lobby sits a coffee and espresso bar. The commons will feature indoor and outdoor dining, plus an employee gym.

The landscape design features Torrey pines, California sycamores and live oaks as its main features. A bougainvillea covered entryway will welcomes visitors.

Several pieces of outdoor sculpture adorn the site, inviting employees to enjoy the grounds. A Celebration Garden, honoring the work of past employees, will be erected later in the year.

Biogen Idec's core values are mirrored through the building via signage, art, murals and more.

"Through the hard work of our incredibly talented and devoted team, we were able to construct a world-class campus in just 18 months," Badeaux said.

Cisterra Partners is no stranger to building first-class facilities. The firm has built campuses for Cisco Systems throughout the world, including Amsterdam, Ottawa and Boston.

Founded by Todd Anson and Steve Black in 1999, Cisterra's approach is to partner with its clients to build work of art projects. The Biogen Idec campus is no exception.

Cisterra is in the midst of developing a second masterpiece project in San Diego -- DiamondView Tower. Located just behind the right field fence of Petco Park, Class A DiamondView Tower will be one of the first downtown San Diego office buildings erected in more than 14 years.


Warren is the principal of TW2 Marketing.

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