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Novartis Institutes of BioMedical Research
Cambridge, Mass.
The Stubbins Associates

Atrium lightens and sweetens former candy factory

© Jeff Goldberg/Esto

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When the candy factory for the New England Confectionery Company was completed in 1927, it was the largest space in the world devoted to manufacturing candy. But after more than seven decades, the plant ceased production. The building’s new owner, the Swiss pharmaceuticals company Novartis, commissioned The Stubbins Associates to transform the 500,000-square-foot interior into state-of-the-art laboratories. The client wanted an inspiring environment that would foster the open exchange of ideas and knowledge and collaboration among scientists.

Stubbins Associates recognized that inherent in the building’s “genes”—its structural integrity, high floor-to-floor-heights, and open floor plates—were the ideal traits necessary for its new function as a biomedical research facility. But while the candy factory contained open floor plates, as a whole it lacked a sense of openness. To achieve this, the architect inserted an amoeba-shaped atrium into the center of the building. Known as “the nucleus,” this six-story space features four circular glass elevators and an open, curved staircase with glass risers. A new 1,571-square-foot skylight floods the entire space with natural light.

Within the atrium, the architect located many of the building’s common areas—such as break rooms, kitchenettes, libraries, and conference suites—to encourage people from different floors to gather and interact. Creating the atrium required cutting through six, ten-inch-thick reinforced concrete floors and removing two support columns at each floor. Its amoeba shape was crafted using a modular deck and shoring system coupled with full-scale, edge-of-slab templates, and re-useable plywood forms for the curves.

Formal name of Project:
Novartis Institutes of BioMedical Research

Cambridge, Mass.

Gross square footage:
500,000 sq. ft.

Novartis AG

The Stubbins Associates
1030 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138-5388
617-491-6450 tel.
617-491-7104 fax


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