Spectrum 4, the latest addition to Alexandria Real Estate Equities’ Spectrum Collection, recently topped out. The project replaces an existing two-story building with a new 171,000-square-foot, three-story office/lab building, creating a world-class R&D facility for Vertex Pharmaceuticals here, designer LPA Inc.’s associate/managing director Eric Jones tells GlobeSt.com. Vertex is creating new possibilities in medicine to cure diseases and improve lives.

We spoke with Jones about the challenges of designing a project of such scale and how the location came into play.

GlobeSt.com: What are the challenges in designing a project of this scale?

Jones: The main challenge of this project was the goal to create a world-class research-and-development facility for Vertex Pharmaceuticals in San Diego. Their operation was sophisticated and complex, and we worked through a design process to gain a deeper understanding of who they were to capture their future vision in this new facility. With clarity of the goals, we partnered with them to design, explore and create a new home.

A project of this scale requires a unified team that is dedicated and committed to project schedules, milestones, budget and works with consistency and reliability. We introduced an integrated design team to incorporate architects, landscape designers and engineers seamlessly; that has proven to improve communication and save time and has ultimately led to the delivery of a better solution.

GlobeSt.com: How did the location of this project come into play with the design process?

Jones: The site location has some of the most scenic and amazing views found in San Diego. The building was organized around creating opportunities to experience the view and frame it from various perspectives so that it could be celebrated and enjoyed by all.

The building was shaped surrounding a two-acre outdoor-amenity area that extend the workspace and seamlessly connects the interior and exterior with a view into the valley. Construction was restricted in height, and the design worked with the topography to maximize daylight into the interior.

GlobeSt.com: Is it easier to design life-science projects for a known tenant or on spec?

Jones: It is not easier or harder either way; however, it is just a different process. For a known tenant, the focus is on the people, goals and vision for their facility. On spec, the focus is about creating opportunity and flexibility for multiple possible configurations and uses. We enjoy both processes.

GlobeSt.com: What else should our readers know about this project?

Jones: This facility will house an amazing group of scientists who have discovered new medicines to treat the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis. Their efforts here will continue to create new possibilities in medicine and save lives.

This project will be the newest addition to Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc.’s  Spectrum campus in the heart of the Torrey Pines life-science submarket. LPA’s integrated architecture and engineering services will deliver Spectrum 4 to replace an existing two-story building with a new 171,000-square-foot, three-story, state-of-the-art office/laboratory building, two levels of underground parking and on-site amenities. The thoughtfully designed amenities include a 1.4-acre meadow destination garden, an elevated terrace for outdoor group dining, a 450-plus person multipurpose event area, flexible space for outdoor fitness and an observation deck with breathtaking views of the adjacent canyon. The facility will house the San Diego research-and-development site of a global biotechnology company that is creating new possibilities in medicine to cure diseases and improve lives.

The site design takes the occupants on a journey through moments of observation, pursuit and intuition that are expressed through the main arterial pathway cutting through the building and running toward the canyon edge. “The Wall” can be found at the intersection of the path and building. It extends through the building, back into the landscape to seamlessly connect the interior and exterior, and it represents a moment of clarity, truth and comprehensive understanding.

The project, designed with sustainability in mind is targeting a minimum of LEED® Silver certification. Sustainable aspects of the project include innovative storm water design, water-efficient landscaping and use reduction, optimized energy performance, high-performance glazing and lighting and construction with low-emitting, recycled and regional materials.

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