Billerica, MA

EMD Serono Project SagaMORE


The EMD Serono Research Institute in Billerica, Massachusetts, is one of the biopharmaceutical company's four hubs for research & development. The Billerica campus fosters enhanced collaboration and synergies to discover and develop innovative therapies with a focus on the therapeutic areas of oncology, neurodegenerative diseases and infertility. The EMD Billerica facility is home to approximately 200 scientists with expertise in cancer biology; cancer immunotherapy; oncogene signaling; manufacturing cell lines; medicinal chemistry; molecular modeling; protein engineering; and therapeutic antibodies.

The Green Engineer has collaborated on three projects at EMD Serono's Billerica Campus: Project Unity, the development of a new, 140,000 SF research and administrative facility complete with labs and a vivarium; Project Bridgeway, the conversion of a 20,000 sf manufacturing facility  into office space; and Project SagaMORE, a 30,000 sf addition to the existing, renovated office space (Project Bridgeway).

Project SagaMORE

Project SagaMORE is a 30,000 SF expansion of EMD Serono's R&D campus in Billerica and was designed to enhance EMD’s progressive work culture through employee engagement, wellbeing, technology, and biophilic design.  Designed by Ellenzweig, the project's design challenge was to expand and improve upon the existing, 24,000 SF office building (Project Bridgeway)  to produce a unified solution, while achieving both WELL Gold and LEED NC v2009 certification. The SagaMORE Project addition more than doubles the size of the original building and incorporates workplace strategies that take open-office cues from its predecessor in conjunction with a far more deliberate and direct connection with the surrounding natural environment, employee engagement, and technology. The Project Sagamore program houses a formal lobby, auditorium and additional office space.

As a component in the long-term development strategy of the Billerica R&D campus, Project Sagamore needed to help fuel innovation and be flexible to growth. Every day, EMD researchers seek to challenge the status quo and continue to advance technologies for life.  The design team's challenge was to continue to build EMD’s innovation culture, taking human interaction and collaboration to a new level to further inspire innovative behaviors, find cures, and affect global change through biopharmaceuticals.

Project Sagamore features an open design that allows for choice and flexibility in where and how employees work.  Employee engagement strategies focused on 4 C’s:  choice, comfort, collaboration, and challenging the norms of how an EMD employee interacts with their environment.  Further providing a connection to place, the bold, branded colors have an important impact on the otherwise monochromatic palette, representing the impact EMD has on the world’s health and wellbeing. - Ellenzweig

Sustainability & Wellbeing

The SagaMORE project at EMD Serono is currently pending LEED NC v2009 certification.  It is expected to achieve a 42% water use reduction, 30% energy cost reduction, and 82% reduction in construction waste. The existing, renovated office space it annexes, Project Bridgeway,  previously achieved LEED CI v2009 Platinum  in 2015. 

Both the existing office and annex have jointly achieved  WELL CertificationTM Gold certification for New Construction from the International Well Building InstituteTM (IWBI)TM. In so far as its WELL Certification, the EMD facility establishes many records. It is the:

  • 1st New & Existing Building WELL Certified Gold project in the US
  • 2nd New & Existing Building WELL Certified Gold project in the World
  • 3rd New & Existing Building WELL Certified project in the US
  • 4th New & Existing Building WELL Certified project in the World
  • 38th certified WELL project of any type in the US
  • 80th certified WELL project of any type in the World

WELL goes beyond designing healthy spaces – it drives building operators to facilitate occupant exercise and behavior. Projects that provide outdoor gardening space and support, or provide alternative commuter facilities (i.e. bike storage and showers) and organizations that incentivize physical activities are just a few of the ways WELL works to improve building occupant health. WELL pushes the envelope on how buildings can, and should improve occupant health. WELL v1 is organized into 7 concepts: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Fitness, Comfort, and Mind, and certification is performance based. 

The EMD project design promotes the use of stairs rather than elevators.  It includes low-VOC emitting interior furnishings and finishes; high-efficiency LED and WELL-compliant interior lighting; planters full of natural vegetation indoors as well as a strong visual connections to the outdoors; and the building does not provide or make available  any food or beverages containing trans. fats or a high sugar content (such as soda or junk food) within the facility or its vending machines. Most impressive, the project has also passed the indoor air quality performance test that is required to achieve WELL certification.

The design and construction team for EMD’s Project SagaMORE understood that the products and materials specified and installed would eventually need to pass performance verification to achieve WELL. Every decision bore a definitive impact on the project’s ability to become a WELL certified building. In this regard, the project's successful passing of the performance verification was an accomplishment not only for the  design team, but also for the occupants - who would move into a space that is officially verified to have a healthy indoor air quality.


The Green Engineer provided sustainable design consulting services on this project, including:

  • LEED Certification Project Management
  • WELL Certification Project Management


Owner/Client: EMD Serono, Inc.

Architect: Ellenzweig

OPM: Jones Lang LaSalle

Photography: Ellenzweig