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BioLegend’s New $100M Campus Reflects Mission

A Sorrento Valley life science company – BioLegend – has built a new campus that cost more than $100 million.

Designed by Delawie architects of San Diego with DPR Construction as the general contractor, the three-building campus has won several awards for its distinctive design that includes an all-glass atrium.

The 70-foot-tall atrium “is really a wonderful iconic structure for our company,” said William Kullback, BioLegend CFO.

“It makes a statement in the community. It makes a statement to our employees,” Kullback said.

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As striking as the atrium is during the day, it glows at night from interior lighting, almost as a beacon.

With almost a lattice-work of steel framing glass, the atrium is meant to “make the project stand out in that neighborhood,” said Greg McClure, principal of Delawie.

The atrium provides access to upper floor labs, offices, break rooms and conference rooms.

Searching

The campus grew out of BioLegend’s search for room to grow.

Initially, the company looked at leasing additional space in Sorrento Valley near their old offices on Pacific Heights Road.

“There was no way for us to expand on one single site based on the location we were in,” Kullback said. “We wanted to be one big happy family on one campus.”

They found a cluster of four aging office buildings on what was then Terman Court – since renamed BioLegend Way.

The property was ideal.

“We were close to the prior location, so it would minimize disruption for our employees,” Kullback said. “For all intents and purposes, our employees had the same ride to work, more or less.”

The company bought the eight-acre site in 2016 for $24 million and spent the next four years designing the project, getting city permits, and building it.

“It was a fairly lengthy process,” Kullback said, but BioLegend was given approval to move in three days ahead of the target date that was set four years earlier.

BioLegend razed one of the office buildings that were on the site, renovated two of the remaining buildings for administrative offices and labs, added a four-story new structure with the atrium and built a seven-story parking garage with 700 spaces.

With the atrium at one edge, the new building with its Y-shape and eye-catching atrium is the focal point of the campus.

One wing of the Y-shape has a break-out portion on the first level that forms a community room for up to 500 people with a green-garden roof that provides insulation and filters rainwater. The campus captures and treats all on-site water.

A pedestrian bridge connects the atrium to the renovated administration building.

Symbolism

The shape of the building is both functional, leading from labs to warehouse space and shipping areas, and symbolic.

“If you look at it from an aerial view, the bio man they call it, the Y-shape is the shape of an antibody with a circle in the middle,” McClure said. “It’s kind of a representation of their logo.”

BioLegend develops antibodies and reagents for biomedical research, according to the company’s website.

The company’s products cover a range of research areas including Immunology, neuroscience, cancer, stem cells, and cell biology.

“Our mission is to enable legendary discoveries from research to cure,” Kullback said. “Someday, somebody’s going to find a cure for cancer and our products are going to be in the middle of it.”

The logo, and hence the shape of the new building, is meant to reflect that mission.

The site’s symbolism carries over to its address – 8999 BioLegend. The company’s founder, Gene Lay, comes from Taiwan, Kullback said, adding that the address is a combination of eight, which signifies good luck, and nines, which stand for prosperity in the Chinese culture.

A sculpture at the front of the campus also resembles the number eight, McClure said.

Praise

Among the awards BioLegend and Delawie received for the campus was a 2020 orchid from the San Diego Architectural Foundation for outstanding architecture.

Jurors in the annual Orchids & Onions program said BioLegend’s new campus was a “great transformation from a tilt-up industrial campus.”

Orchids go to projects of note and onions go to those that missed the mark.

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