Novartis & Pfizer to move near campus

New construction to transform area in Central and Kendall Squares

Two pharmaceutical giants, Novartis and Pfizer, are getting closer to realizing their new complexes neighboring the MIT campus. Both sites will primarily house research facilities.

Novartis’ new campus will occupy the Analog Devices lot and building near the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Albany Street, and Pfizer will be at 610 Main Street — the lot adjacent to the Shire building. Both properties are leased from the MIT Investment Management Company. Novartis currently runs a research complex across Mass Ave. from their new site.

Last June, Novartis received a unanimous approval from the city council for zoning changes it had been planning through the spring. Those changes included a petition to increase building height in sections further away from Mass. Ave., said Jeffrey Lockwood, global head of communications at Novartis.

There are no definite schedules or final designs, but Novartis expects to be finalizing plans with the Cambridge Planning Board by November or December. Earlier this year, the company announced it had hired Vietnam War Memorial architect Maya Lin to design part of the new complex.

According to Lockwood, Novartis hopes to be an important contributor to the Boston research community. “[Novartis] will be a real life sciences campus,” Lockwood said.

Lockwood hopes to maintain the feel of an open campus, like the MIT campus. According to Lockwood, there will be pedestrian access through the Novartis campus during working hours.

Lockwood also emphasized the positive impact the project could have on the surrounding area, which houses many retailers. Novartis is planning for 8,000 square feet of retail property along Massachusetts Avenue. “We can really transform this end of Massachusetts Avenue into a vibrant area‚ and be a connection between Kendall and Central Square,” Lockwood said.

Pfizer is beginning construction on their laboratory just north of MIT’s main campus. “We’re proceeding quickly, and are exactly where we need to be,” said Steven C. Marsh, managing director of real estate at MITIMCo. Marsh estimates the building to be completed in two years.

The project has not seen any delays or impediments from the city of Cambridge. The site was fully planned and permitted in 2009 under the city’s Article 19 planning regulations.

Marsh is excited about the implications of research expansion in the area. “There isn’t much economic development activity happening around the globe, so I’m glad some of it is landing here in Cambridge,” he said.

The companies will be joining a host of other pharmaceutical groups in the growing research community around the Kendall and Central Square areas, including Biogen Idec, Millennium Takeda Oncology Co., and Infinity pharmaceuticals.