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Illumina's Foster City Campus Brings Flex Lab Space To Forefront

Illumina’s newest campus in Foster City has a feature many traditional life science buildings do not have: collaborative work and lab spaces. 

BioMed Realty Vice President Scott Altick, Illumina Senior Manager of Global Workpace Design Jenny Durbin, BioMed Realty Vice President of Development Salil Payappilly and Chief Development Officer and Executive Vice President Jon Bergschneider

The Foster City campus, which officially opened April 2, incorporates collaborative work environments from its 40K SF amenity building to its outdoor areas and two 151K SF office and R&D buildings.

“Everything we do is collaboration,” Illumina Chief Information Officer and Head of Global Facilities Norm Fjeldheim said during a tour of the campus.

Fjeldheim said the campus, which was developed by BioMed Realty, is meant to have a collegiate feel, which was part of its acquisition strategy to garner recent Ph.D.s. The campus interior was designed by Perkins+Will, while the exterior and campus was designed by HOK. The buildings are a mix of office and lab space, which is on the exterior of the building and has plenty of natural light.

A typical lab space inside Illumina’s campus has a mix of flex space and areas for sequencers and various equipment to process data. The lab spaces have significant natural light and views of the surrounding Bay Area.

Fjeldheim said the company made a conscious decision to bring light into lab space to make employees not feel so closed in. Lab space is typically included in the first through third floors while the fourth floor is completely office.

Flexible lab space in Illumina's Foster City campus

Since San Diego-based Illumina is a meeting-intensive company, each building contains dozens of conference rooms, according to Illumina Senior Manager of Global Workpace Design Jenny Durbin.

Each building has themed conference rooms, but a universal audiovisual system that is the same across multiple campuses to make it easier for employees to access. Each conference room area includes warm-up or cool-down spaces outside of meeting rooms for groups to use before and after meetings.

Meeting rooms have a curved design to symbolize the company’s work with DNA and organic materials.

Nobody, including the CEO, has a private office in the open-office area.

“It was important not to have executive privilege,” Fjeldheim said. “Everyone [is here] for the same mission.”

The accelerator space inside Illumina's Foster City campus

In addition to the large café in the main amenities building, the office buildings will have mini work cafés for employees on the first floor.

In Building B, Illumina set up a large accelerator space where it offers startups in the genomics field six months to use its space and equipment, according to Illumina Public Relations Manager Tina Amirkiai. The new accelerator space is 8K SF, over twice the size of the 3,500 SF available at the former Mission Bay campus.

A Collaborative Amenities Building

The Hub, Illumina's cafeteria space at its Foster City campus

In addition to the office and lab space, employees are encouraged to use the amenity building and outdoor spaces to work, according to Fjeldheim. The grounds were designed to move foot traffic toward the amenities building.

The lunch area, or The Hub, was designed as a place where employees could take a break with food, but also have the option of a working lunch or simply an open work environment to touch down, according to Durbin. She said she anticipates working in The Hub herself.

The game room inside Illumina's Foster City campus

The amenities building includes a game room, which is also considered a work area.

“Sometimes employees work best and inspiration strikes in the heat of a foosball battle,” Durbin said.

Fjeldheim said he expects all of Illumina’s offices to incorporate a game room in the future.

Additional features of the amenities building include a large conference room and a fitness center with 24/7 access and various fitness classes that employees can take during their off time. Espresso machines will be available throughout the campus. In addition, Equator Coffees & Teas will provide specialty coffee drinks in the amenities building, Durbin said.

Illumina's Foster City campus

An outdoor patio off the amenities building was designed for employees to catch a breath or work outdoors, Durbin said.

Illumina plans to have 350 to 400 employees at the campus initially, but has capacity to accommodate up to 1,200, according to Fjeldheim. The company also has the ability to add another building if it grows beyond 1,200. Its Bay Area employees in Santa Clara and San Francisco will be transitioned to the new campus. Its former Mission Bay campus will be subleased out.

Foster City provided the company a great central point for talent throughout the Bay Area and is close to the San Mateo Bridge and freeways, BioMed Chief Development Officer and Executive Vice President Jon Bergschneider said.

CORRECTION, April 5, 10 A.M. PT: A previous version of the article incorrectly stated the designer of Illumina's campus and interior. The article has been updated.