Architecture, design and planning firm SGA is bolstering its sustainability portfolio with yet another record-breaking Life Sciences project: Innovation Square 3 (ISQ3).
Located in the Boston Seaport, ISQ3 is slated to become Boston’s first LEED Zero Carbon Certified building, helping advance the city’s initiatives to become carbon neutral by 2050. Teaming up with Boston’s leading minority-owned architecture firm Dream Collaborative, SGA designed a seven-story, 320,000 SF building with state-of-the-art, flexible lab space for Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Slated for completion in late 2025, ISQ3 features groundbreaking sustainability milestones while prioritizing diversity and community.
With a desire to attract top talent and foster new discoveries in life sciences, Innovation Square 3 (ISQ3) prioritizes the neighborhood’s deep maritime history, extensive waterways, and existing industrial architecture.
Together, SGA and Related Beal have undertaken the transformation of the ISQ3 site in Boston’s Eastern Seaport within the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park. Once the site of the South Boston Naval Annex and South Boston Army Base, as well as the location for shipping, commerce, and drydock activities, the waterfront industrial park was largely underutilized with aging infrastructure. In support of the effort, DREAM Collaborative has teamed with SGA to deliver a new design driven by enhanced interconnectivity with the public realm. ISQ3 leverages civic space as an engaging asset for both the scientific community and the public.
The seven-story state-of-the-art research and development facility is complete with on-site amenities including a café, fitness center, roof deck, conference and event space, and outdoor public seating.
Drawing direct inspiration from its axial relationship with the existing buildings and landmarks, the development’s distinctive V-shaped plan animates the ground plane and engages pedestrians with an atypical street level experience. A new courtyard designed by Ground, Inc., and a public first floor intertwine with the surrounding urban ecosystem to capitalize on the street corner position and create a distinguished gateway to the neighborhood.
With a deeply toned steel-framed façade pulling from the surrounding industrial expression, the design of the building employs modern glass work that plays lightly with scale and symmetry to create an inspirational intersection between the neighborhood’s historic context and its future growth.
As a build-to-suit for Vertex Pharmaceuticals, design focuses on open, flexible space to ensure opportunity for continued adaptation in pursuit of their mission to “invest in scientific innovation to create transformative medicines for people with serious diseases with a focus on specialty markets.” Vertex’s success and longstanding commitment to the Seaport is often credited as the catalyst for the neighborhood’s evolution and a point of pride for the City and region.
Working closely with the City of Boston, local government officials and community stakeholders, the development includes substantial public benefits to support STEM education, technical job training, and employment opportunities for Boston residents, and support for the fishing industry — an important economic partner and neighbor on the South Boston waterfront.
A strategic partnership established with The Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute (GMGI) will create educational opportunities for underprivileged and minority communities through on-site training in GMGI’s future, public-facing ground floor learning laboratory location at ISQ 3. This space will provide the team with a technologically enhanced facility that empowers the continuous pursuit of its mission to, “address critical challenges facing our oceans, human health, and the environment through innovative scientific research and education.” The partnership will also allow for the expansion of GMGI’s middle and high school STEM education programs and will target local Boston schools where there are underserved minority populations.
The cutting-edge discovery that will take place inside ISQ3 is supported by careful coordination, complex equipment, and new strategies for sustainability and resiliency. The foundation will be raised five feet to gracefully sculpt a protective edge for the development and prevent impacts of climate change. This prominent plateau engages the public and celebrates the equity of open space while creating opportunities for diverse community activation.
Hand-in-hand with resiliency considerations, ISQ3 prioritizes peak sustainability features such as a high performance envelope design, MEP electrification using heat pump technologies, maximum on-site renewable energy generation via rooftop photovoltaics, and a reduction in embodied carbon through whole building life cycle assessment.
Set to achieve LEED Platinum Certification and LEED Zero Carbon certification, these collaborative resiliency and sustainability efforts improve a Vertex’s confidence and comfort in occupancy of this prominent, future-minded property.
Find out more about the Innovation Square 3 (ISQ3) project at SGA.