Rendering of the two buildings of Vertex Pharmaceuticals at Fan Pier. Image courtesy of Fan Pier Development.
Rendering of the 11 Fan Pier Boulevard designed by Elkus Manfredi Architects. Image courtesy of Fan Pier Development.
The Vertex 50 Northern Avenue building designed by Tsoi/Kobus & Associates. Image courtesy of Fan Pier Development.

Massachusetts-based biotechnology company Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Vertex) is currently relocating its headquarters from Cambridge to Fan Pier, on the Boston Waterfront. The company is currently headquartered at 130 Waverly Street and operates ten different facilities in and around Cambridge. The relocation is expected to be completed by mid-2014.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals signed agreements in May 2011 to lease two buildings at Fan Pier for a period of 15-years. It is the largest commercial lease in Boston, amounting to $1.1bn. The move will consolidate the company’s headquarters and entire operations at Fan Pier.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ history and headquarters

“Massachusetts-based biotechnology company Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Vertex) will relocate its headquarters by mid-2014.”

Vertex Pharmaceuticals was founded by Joshua Boger in Massachusetts in 1989. The company is focussed on discovering, developing and commercialising new medicines through research.

It is engaged in the development of medicines for life threatening diseases such as hepatitis C, epilepsy and cystic fibrosis through worldwide research programmes.

Vertex currently has a workforce of 1,300 employees in the state. About 500 more employees are expected to be hired by 2015, to support the continuous growth of the company. Other office locations are in San Diego and Coralvillein the US, Abingdon in the UK and Laval in Canada, with a total workforce of about 1,800.

The first drug of the company, INCIVEK (telaprevir) was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May 2011 for the treatment of hepatitis C. Vertex developed Kalydeco (VX-770) for the treatment of cystic fibrosis and obtained FDA approval for the drug for the treatment of cystic fibrosis in January 2012. Several other medicines are in the mid-stages of development.

Fan Pier location

Fan Pier, also called Innovative District, is a 21-acre mixed-use waterfront development spanning about nine blocks along the edge of the Boston Harbour. It has about three million square feet of commercial, hotel, retail, residential and public green space. It includes a six-acre marina, harbour walk and a public park and has a well connected transportation infrastructure.

Fan Pier is home to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Salon Mario Russo, LOUIS and other commercial tenants. ONE Marina Park Drive is the first and LEED Gold certified development at the Innovative District.

The relocation of Vertex Pharmaceuticals to Fan Pier is expected to promote establishment of other academic institutes and technology companies.

Project details

The project includes construction of two 16-storey buildings for Vertex headquarters. The biomedical research laboratories and offices in the two buildings will occupy a total area of 1.1 million ft2. The ground floor development includes retail and restaurant spaces in an area of 60,000ft2. It also has underground parking garage for 725 vehicles.

“Vertex Pharmaceuticals was founded by Joshua Boger in Massachusetts in 1989.”

The two buildings are distinctive and differ in design. A contemporary design building, 50 Northern Avenue was designed by the architectural firm Tsoi/Kobus & Associates of Cambridge. It has floor to ceiling glass exteriors.

The light blue façade has sloped floor heights along the Northern Avenue. It offers panoramic views of the Boston skyline and the waterfront.

Elkus Manfredi Architects of Boston designed the other building, 11 Fan Pier Boulevard. The building has a metallic framework façade with floor to ceiling green glasses. The facade is curved in the east.

All the building corners facing the city feature glass. Both the buildings are designed to achieve LEED Gold certification.

Construction / contractors involved in the significant private-sector project

Construction of the new headquarters was started in June 2011 and inauguration was held in February 2014. The total cost of construction of the project was about $850m, making it one of the largest private-sector projects in the US. The project created about 2,000 construction jobs. Turner Construction was the general contractor of the project.

Public-private funds supported the construction of the pharmaceutical buildings, refurbishment of the public accessibility, landscaping, utilities, sidewalks, and construction of a new water public transpiration dock.

Financing the building of Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ new headquarters

The Fallon Company is the owner and developer of the Fan Pier facility. Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance were the financial advisors for the project.

A loan of $355m was secured in July 2011 by HFF towards the construction of the Vertex Pharmaceuticals Campus on behalf of the Fallon Company and investors. In October 2011, the state-run public-private programme, Innovative Infrastructure Investment (I-Cubed), committed to fund $50m towards the development of the Fan Pier facility.