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Perkins and Will tests a turnkey laboratory for S+T startups moving up from their incubation phase

The design giant has identified one critical need among S+T startups that want to graduate from their incubator stage: “step-out” labs.

August 13, 2019 |
Hudson Research Center, Manhattan, Taconic Development, HiberCell, architect Perkins+Will

Perkins and Will’s turnkey lab, specifically for companies ready to break out of their incubator state, is currently being tested at the Hudson Research Center in Manhattan, managed by Taconic Development, where HiberCell has taken 15,000 sf of lab space designed to the firm’s specifications. Rendering courtesy Taconic Development 


New York City is trying to attract more biotech through its 10-year, $500 million LifeSci NYC Initiative, whose focus includes providing financial support for life sciences campuses, nonprofit R&D facilities, commercial lab space, and incubator expansion.

Perkins and Will has identified one critical need among startups that want to graduate from their incubator stage: “step-out” labs that are flexible enough to expand along with these new companies.

Matthew Malone, a Science and Technology Practice Leader at Perkins and Will’s New York office, explains that when startups come out of incubation, they are often leasing space on a lineal-foot basis, which limits their growth and the amount of time they can spend in that space. In addition, he explains, the startups’ funding is usually earmarked toward science, not rent, and the companies’ leadership isn’t always business savvy.

Working with Taconic Development, a real estate development and property management firm, Perkins and Will has devised a spec lab, which is entirely turnkey to meet the tenants’ evolving needs. This step-out lab would range from 7,000 to 12,000 sf, and would lease from $60 to $100 per sf, although that would vary up or down depending on location.


HiberCell gets first step-out labortaory  

Perkins and Will has already tried this concept in Cambridge, Mass. Its first step-out lab in New York will be a 15,000-sf space that HiberCell, a company focused exclusively on therapeutically modulating the biology and mechanisms of tumor dormancy, is leasing on the 8th floor of the Hudson Research Center in Midtown Manhattan. 

Taconic owned this 320,000-sf building from 2012 through 2017, and still manages the property for its current owner Silverstein Properties. The rebranded Hudson Research Center is leasing 150,000 sf to S+T tenants, the first of which was the Stem Cell Foundation, which took 42,000 sf in 2017. 


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HiberCell (which has raised nearly $61 million) moved in on May 1 and is paying $80 per sf in rent, plus operating expenses, says Matthew Weir, a SVP with Taconic. Perkins and Will was the architect for this fitout, BR+A the design engineer, and Talisen Construction the GC. The space is fit for 50 employees, says Malone.

Weir says he “loves the demand drivers” behind S+T turnkey solutions, noting that labs in New York City are No. 2 in the country for receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health.

He notes, however, that the trick to making turnkey labs worth the expense is to make them adaptable and flexible enough “to accommodate a biology-oriented tenant, a chemistry-oriented tenant, and so forth, so we can make changes at minimal cost to the owner.”

Weir says that Taconic would like to try this concept in some of its other buildings, which would require addressing zoning issues, the building envelope, “and how to get the infrastructure into the space.”

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