Biotech company Galapagos finds integrated solution for real estate process
June 27, 2023
In the spring of 2022, Galapagos opened its new Dutch office, The Finch, located at the Leiden Bio Science Park in Oegstgeest. This project was a complex puzzle combining sustainability, employee well-being and advanced technology. CBRE helped Galapagos put all of the pieces in the right places, throughout the entire real estate process. The result is a unique, high-tech facility that represents a new benchmark in the biotech sector.
Lody van Rooij, Head of Facility Management at Galapagos, is undeniably proud of the creation of the brand new building at the Leiden Bio Science Park. He explains once again: ‘You feel it the moment you arrive – this is a really special building.’ Standing proudly alongside the A44 motorway near Oegstgeest, the impressive complex is magnificent, and with its clean lines and ample glass, it is a smart piece of architecture.
A powerful partnership
The Finch took three years to develop from concept to completion, which is something of a record. When the building opened in spring 2022, it was not without issues. Galapagos and CBRE encountered each other early in the process, and the initial request was quite modest. Lody: ‘We wanted to develop and own The Finch ourselves, instead of leasing it. That’s quite unusual. So we asked CBRE whether that was a financially appealing option at all.’
‘They thoroughly examined the files and came back to us with a comprehensive recommendation that not only covered the figures, but also involved a close examination of the entire project, right down to the design. They recommended that we partially modify the existing blueprint, so we did that and produced a new sketch with a modified entrance and layout. As it turned out, this was the start of a close partnership.’
This project would actually take some doing. ‘We originally thought we could use The Finch as the Dutch Galapagos office. However, during construction, we reconsidered everything and ended up following CBRE’s advice to turn it into a multi-tenant building. We now share the property with another biopharmaceutical company, which was a great solution for both of us.’
First and foremost, this is a very complex building. ‘We divided it into two parts, with the office on one side and laboratories on the other. Because the labs will be used to work with sensitive materials, high-end equipment and permits are required and we had to work hard to achieve that. We really appreciated the support we received from CBRE and PM², a project consulting firm that specialises in technically complex work environments,’ says Lody.
Focus on people
‘We made no concessions when it came to developing this building; we were given complete freedom to design it the way we wanted. And by “we”, I mean the people who work here now. We collaborated with CBRE to develop a workplace concept based on feedback from Galapagos employees at several sites. We ran comprehensive surveys that gave us a clear idea of their needs. For example, we asked them how they liked their current workplace and what they wanted from their future workplace, and what they believed to be important. Based on that, we developed a unique workplace strategy that focuses on maximising support for employees in their work and well-being. It’s very noticeable.’
‘It's such a nice place to be. There are many consultation areas and seclusion spaces, as well as concentration and collaboration areas. We have a restaurant, a gym, two rooftop terraces and even a garden with beehives, apple and pear trees and swings.’ While adjacent properties all have plain lawns in front of them, Galapagos has taken a different approach, installing plants, trees and flowers, and even several insect hotels. There are green walls throughout the building, planted with a mosaic of different species. Lody explains: ‘No matter where you are in the building, you can see greenery, plants and life.’ The imposing bamboo staircase in the atrium is one of many such staircases, all centrally located. ‘We want to get people walking, and encourage them to take the stairs.’
Real estate director
Although the building is finished, the collaboration continues. Galapagos shares the building with Bristol Meyers Squibb, which leases several floors. The top two are for the company's own use. ‘CBRE is helping us with facilitating the subleasing of the remaining two floors. This means we’ve been able to consult with them on the entire chain: the strategic recommendation, workplace concept, interior design, tendering, cost management and general management matters, and subleasing. It's nice to be able to collaborate with a steady partner from the start to the finish.’
The Finch is a complete success, with CBRE now the permanent housing director for Galapagos, helping the biotech company to develop and manage its new European sites in places such as Basel and Madrid. Lody: ‘These types of technically complex projects require experience, knowledge and expertise. A standard building is simply not good enough. CBRE is a partner with the expertise required to manage the real estate process from A to Z, no matter how lengthy or technically complex.’
Related case studies
The new Booking.com campus has pride of place on the Oosterdokskade. The schedule was tight, and the budget equally so, but the result was well worth all of it.
For many decades, ofi operated out of its offices and factory premises in Zaanstreek. This B2B purveyor of cocoa, coffee, dairy products, nuts and spices is now swapping this traditional working environment for an industrial hotspot in Amsterdam.
Covering 30,000 square metres and housing 60 retailers, Klanderij-Twentec is the biggest shopping mall in Enschede. You can come here for virtually everything: from the major fashion brands to small, artisanal boutiques.
This project was a complex puzzle combining sustainability, employee well-being and advanced technology. CBRE helped Galapagos put all of the pieces in the right places, throughout the entire real estate process.