fb-pixel Skip to main content

Moderna, which has doubled its work force since developing one of the world’s leading COVID-19 vaccines last year, said Thursday it has outgrown its headquarters in Cambridge’s Kendall Square and will move to a 462,000-square-foot building nearby that’s scheduled to open in 2023.

Moderna has signed a lease with Alexandria Real Estate Equities, which is constructing a building at 325 Binney St. that will house the biotech’s headquarters and research and development operations. Alexandria owns Moderna’s current 175,000-square-foot headquarters at 200 Technology Square. It also owns the drugmaker’s 300,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Norwood, which Moderna said in March it would expand to about 650,000 square feet.

Advertisement



“There’s no surprise that Moderna’s outgrown their current headquarters given the success of their vaccine,” said Aaron Jodka, research director at real estate firm Colliers.

But the bigger story, Jodka said, was the insatiable appetite that biopharma companies have for real estate in Kendall Square. His firm reported there was no vacant lab space in East Cambridge, which encompasses the life sciences hub, in the second quarter.

Few outside the world of biotechnology had heard of Moderna before it developed one of the three coronavirus vaccines available in the US. It is now the third-biggest biopharma employer based in Massachusetts, with 1,738 employees in the state, according to a recent report by the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, an industry group. That’s more than double the size of its workforce the year before.

Moderna’s market value has also skyrocketed and totaled more than $155 billion at the end of trading Thursday. That’s the most of any homegrown biopharma company in Massachusetts and roughly three times the value of Biogen and Vertex, older biotechs with multiple products on the market. Moderna’s messenger RNA vaccine is its first product to get cleared by the Food and Drug Administration since the firm was founded in 2010.

Advertisement



“We have been located in Massachusetts since our founding more than 10 years ago and are proud to be based here,” Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s chief executive, said in a statement. “Our new science center will integrate digital-first scientific research and development labs along with space for innovation and co-creation with our people and our partners around the world.”

Moderna expanded rapidly as the federal government funneled billions of dollars to it and rival vaccine makers through Operation Warp Speed. The FDA cleared Moderna’s two-shot vaccine on Dec. 18, a week after the agency authorized the first vaccine, made by Pfizer-BioNTech, for emergency use. Pfizer’s two-shot vaccine also uses mRNA.

When Moderna moves to its new headquarters and completes its expansion in Norwood, it will be among a handful of biopharma companies occupying, or planning to occupy, more than 1 million square feet in Massachusetts, according to Jodka. The other companies include Takeda Pharmaceutical, Sanofi, Novartis, Bristol Myers Squibb, Biogen, Vertex, and Pfizer.

Alexandria, one of the largest life science real estate developers in the country, acquired the 3.6-acre site, formerly home of Metropolitan Pipe and Supply Company, for $80.2 million in 2017, and started construction on the building last year. 325 Binney is Alexandria’s latest project along Binney Street, where it has built a string of buildings in recent years that today house Cambridge offices of Sanofi, Facebook and IBM Watson Health, among others.

Alexandria said the new building will be the “most sustainable laboratory building in Cambridge” and is expected to eliminate most fossil fuel consumption for heating and become a net-zero energy commercial lab.

Advertisement




Jonathan Saltzman can be reached at jonathan.saltzman@globe.com. Anissa Gardizy can be reached at anissa.gardizy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @anissagardizy8.