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Ariad to add HQ, jobs in Kendall Square

Drug maker consolidating after winning approval to market leukemia treatment

Ariad Pharmaceuticals will occupy the majority of two new laboratory and office buildings to be built in Kendall Square.Payette

Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc. will build a new corporate headquarters and laboratory complex in Kendall Square, adding to a biotech building boom that is rapidly filling that part of Cambridge with jobs and modern buildings.

The company, which recently won federal approval for its first major drug, will occupy most of two five-story buildings to be built on Binney Street by Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc.

The new offices will allow Ariad to consolidate its operations and usher in an era of expansion following the launch of Iclusig, which won Food and Drug Administration approval last month as a treatment for chronic myeloid leukemia. The company is awaiting approval in Europe, too.


Ariad’s workforce has more than doubled to about 300 employees since the start of 2012, and the company expects to add at least 100 jobs in Cambridge over the next two years.

Ariad’s buildings will be part of a larger complex called Alexandria Center at Kendall Square , a 1.9-million-square-foot development that will eventually include four office and lab buildings, residences, stores, and restaurants.

Tom Andrews, an Alexandria Real Estate executive, said the project will bring new life to vacant lots along the eastern end of Binney Street and upgrade the area with bike paths, a public park, and fresher landscaping.

“These improvements will really transform that corner of Kendall Square,” Andrews said, adding that the Ariad buildings, to include at least one restaurant or retail shop, are scheduled to be completed in early 2015. The company has signed a 15-year lease to occupy about 60 percent of the 386,000-square-foot buildings at 75 and 125 Binney St.; much of the remainder will be available for lease by other technology or life sciences companies.

Several biotechnology companies are also moving forward with new office and laboratory complexes, including Novartis AG, Pfizer Inc., Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Biogen Idec, which will occupy another building under construction at Alexandria Center.


The rush of building activity is being fueled by the discovery of drugs to treat neurological disorders and chronic diseases such as cancer, ALS, and diabetes.

Ariad is working out of two buildings in the University Park development in Cambridge. Its founder and chief executive, Harvey J. Berger, said he is looking forward to consolidating them in Kendall Square in 2015.

The new headquarters, designed by the architecture firm Payette, will feature glass terraces adjoining the buildings and textured panels and windows that will alternate in a manner to evoke DNA patterns. The complex will house Ariad’s chemistry, biology, and pharmacology labs, as well as sales, marketing, and finance operations.

“It will be designed to foster collaboration between scientists and commercial folks,” Berger said. “It doesn’t matter what department you’re in. There will be elegant collaboration space.”

That space will include common areas where employees can work together on laptops and teleconferencing rooms where they can interact with colleagues at the company’s offices in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Berger said Ariad limited its search to Cambridge, considering University Park and other sites before settling on Alexandria Center.

“It’s all about being in the Cambridge scientific environment,” he said. “That’s where our roots are. We’ve been in Cambridge from day one. We gave no consideration to being in Boston.”

Berger said the company’s job growth in Cambridge will boost its worldwide payroll to about 500.


Casey Ross can be reached at cross@globe.com. Robert Weisman can be reached at weisman@globe.com.