Bringing Creative Office To Boston’s Suburbs
In the suburbs of Boston, a haven for office wellness has emerged from the bones of Wang Labs’ former research and development HQ.
Rubenstein Partners has transformed the 700K SF space into The Center at Innovation Drive, a repurposed creative office and flex space in the suburbs analogous to renovations often found in urban cores.
Consisting of four interconnected buildings, the campus brings occupant engagement, amenities and flexible space. A modern work environment off Interstate 495 in Tewksbury, The Center at Innovation Drive offers tenants live-work-play integration. It also offers collaboration with neighboring companies on campus and within the surrounding area.
“What Rubenstein Partners has done is turned the center into this vibrant campus,” Rubenstein Partners General Manager Alexa Weigel-Krause said. “You can do anything you want here without having to leave, and that is something tenants looking at an area like this want to see.”
Prior to redeveloping The Center at Innovation Drive, Weigel-Krause helped manage New Balance’s office assets. The Boston-based apparel company has been a notable proponent of designing workplaces that promote productivity and wellness in an economy that has outgrown the traditional 9-to-5 and demands better work-life integration.
The trend toward holistic workspaces has begun to spread outward from cities to suburban office properties. The improvements at The Center at Innovation Drive are in response to shifting office tenant demands for more dynamic, amenity-packed workplaces that are flexible enough to handle the rapidly changing demands of office tenants.
Coffee shops and gyms are no longer enough, Weigel-Krause said. Now tenants want cool collaboration spaces, open conference areas and on-site services like dry cleaning and car repairs that minimize travel time between home and the office.
The Center at Innovation Drive offers several modern amenities. This includes a new cafeteria operated by NexDine, which specializes in healthy food options with indoor and outdoor seating areas; a modern, full-service fitness center with personal training, wellness and fitness classes, plus locker rooms and showers; a conference center with two rooms for team meetings equipped with video conferencing and presentation capabilities; electric vehicle “Plug-In Stations” with preferred parking; hiking/biking trails, a basketball court and a softball field.
Beyond providing a space for employees to eat, stay active or run errands in between office tasks, the ownership crafts activities designed to help tenants improve office wellness and collaborate with their neighbors. Tenants can congregate in the atrium for after-work events or in a “living room” area for collaboration and soft meetings. Services like farm shares in the summer and family-style meals once a week further create a sense of community that has previously been missing in many suburban offices.
While suburban offices tend to attract tenants who are used to having their own building or self-contained workspace, the goal behind The Center at Innovation Drive is to create a meeting ground for businesses with similar interests. The management is exploring affordable, short-term growth offerings for young companies and shorter lease terms for older companies with space needs that vary over time. Such workplace strategies are comparable to what they would find in urban coworking spaces, Weigel-Krause said.
The Center at Innovation Drive is also considering plug-and-play spec suites for immediate occupancy and a "maker" lab with shared access to 3D printing and other technology resources. For companies of all sizes, the availability of public space offers an opportunity for collaboration, while the expansive floor plates, robust infrastructure and freight loading from the center's R&D days will satisfy the most demanding of today’s innovators.
“We are keeping a balance,” Weigel-Krause said. “We understand where we are and the types of companies that are drawn to the area. We are going to have common areas and we want to bring people out of their tenant spaces. If you have two tech tenants, why can’t you make space for them where they would be comfortable collaborating?”
Weigel-Krause expects those common spaces to remain fluid as The Center at Innovation Drive continues to evolve. Rubenstein plans on taking advantage of its proximity to other innovative companies and local universities to host public events in its atrium, activating the space outside of business hours. Rather than stick with the same static amenities, management will add to its amenities package as the demands of the tenant population continue to evolve, taking a hands-on hospitality approach to continuously improving the asset.
Like an office space in a central business district, it will remain a dynamic place to live, work and play.
This feature was produced in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content and Rubenstein Partners. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.