In the competitive world of medical research, it is rare that an organization would value transparency as much as confidentiality. Yet a new combined laboratory and workplace for research-stage drug discovery company Halda Therapeutics reflects a culture that prizes both openness and innovation.
Designed by leaders in research architecture Svigals + Partners, Halda’s new home base occupies the ground floor of the former Winchester Arms factory, originally built in the late 19th Century. The office area accommodates 24 employees, separated by a glass-enclosed conference room from the laboratory’s 40 wet benches outfitted with sinks and fume hoods.
For those familiar with the research industry, what may be most intriguing is the glass partitions spanning the length of the headquarters, and revealing R&D work inside to occupants of the building lobby.
“Halda’s leaders are not concerned about casual glances into their office or labs,” says Omarys Vasquez, AIA, NOMA, an architect with the architecture, art and advisory firm. “The information they consider sensitive is mostly digital, which we helped to protect by treating glass in sensitive locations with a film that obscures images on screens, including the full-height glazed enclosure of the conference room.”
The design team focused on solutions for infrastructure upgrades needed for the laboratory use, including the installation of a three-foot-wide shaft that would direct venting to new air handling equipment installed on the roof. Svigals + Partners’ previous experience with the Winchester Arms building (for finance company Higher One, the previous occupant) gave the team a head start. “We knew we would need to locate equipment on the side of the building that has a basement, to increase cost efficiency by minimizing the amount of trenching and digging,” says Vasquez.
The 7,500-square-foot headquarters embodies Halda’s outlook of excitement and innovation, an effort led by the firm’s director of interior design Katherine Berger, NCIDQ, WELL AP in collaboration with Vasquez, firm partner Bob Skolozdra, AIA, LEED AP, and others.
“Halda’s decision-makers were open to some unusual suggestions, which we loved,” says Berger, an expert in high-tech workplaces. “They let us introduce open ceilings in the labs, which is rare, painted with a brand-inspired blue accent color. The same blue accent can be found around the workstations, meeting rooms and huddle areas.” In addition to this unusual ceiling treatment, Berger and Vasquez also addressed the issue of two massive sloping structural beams in the reception area by introducing two standing planters, focusing traffic flow between the beams, while adding warmth, color, and a biophilic element.
According to partner and principal Skolozdra, Halda’s leadership and staff are very happy in the new space and are already looking at the rest of the first floor and thinking about how to expand to accommodate expected short-term growth.
“Founder Craig Crews is a visionary who sees the potential of New Haven as a nationally competitive research science hub,” Skolozdra says. “Everyone loves the historic building, and the way the design establishes visual connections, reflecting the company’s appreciation of openness and innovation. The Halda team understands that expressing their unique culture in its environment provides a recruitment advantage, which is critical to competing in the research science field.”