Location: Cambridge, MA
Project Type: Corporate Interior
Product: Mosa, Terra Maestricht Matte Mid Cool Grey 226V | 24″ x 48″; 8″ x 24″; 12″ x 24″, Rectified
Quantity: 17,000 Square Feet
Design Firm: CannonDesign
Tile Installer: Port Morris Tile & Marble Corporation
Certifications: LEED Gold

As the world faces an aging population followed by a generation with increasingly hectic schedules, unhealthy eating habits, and chronic diseases, the ability to create new technology and innovative drugs to serve these populations is a key driver for success in the pharmaceutical industry.

Novartis is a $50B global healthcare company based in Switzerland that provides solutions to address these evolving needs of patients worldwide. Novartis products are available in more than 180 countries and they reached nearly 1 billion people globally in 2015. About 123,000 people of 144 nationalities work at Novartis around the world.

In 2012 Novartis sought to build a new research campus that would change the way Novartis conducts research, promoting increased collaboration, idea-sharing and teamwork. The $600 million laboratory and office complex would serve as the centerpiece of the company’s worldwide research operations based in Cambridge, MA and would be used to evolve and streamline research operations. The Boston Globe titled it as, “one of ten projects that will change [the] innovation landscape in Boston and Cambridge”.

Novartis tasked CannonDesign with achieving two main objectives with the design concept: adding research capacity, and increasing collaboration. CannonDesign, in turn, developed the “New Scientific Workplace,” a design strategy focused on creating new opportunities for collaboration and cross-disciplinary communication. The design strategy achieved the objectives by pairing highly-flexible laboratory spaces to accommodate multiple sciences with conference and informal meeting spaces. These spaces would be used for innovation and research to serve the world’s population.

Challenge | Natural Stone Costs and Delays

Creative Materials Corporation was contacted by Port Morris, the tile installer on the massive project, which included two new buildings and the renovation of a third building. Port Morris was looking for a tile alternative to natural stone. Stone flooring initially selected and installed on a separate Novartis campus wound up causing long delays and cost-increases. Because stone is a natural product, there are many elements that cannot be controlled. These include weather patterns and environmental factors related to the location from which the stone is sourced, the color range of the stone, and size of the blocks being pulled from the quarries matching what is needed. Special installation and maintenance methods must be used with natural stone which makes it more expensive to install and also to maintain. A combination of these issues had caused problems for Novartis.

Port Morris needed to find a solution for the new buildings. Port Morris knew Creative Materials to be an expert in the tile space and reached out for help with developing an alternative solution to stone.

The Creative Materials team understood going in how high-profile this project was, and what the sensitivity would be in terms of timeframe and budget. The design concept was also critical. The flooring was requested as a simple concrete/stone look in large format with several “lines” of stone cutting through that would get mixed in with the porcelain tile.

Given the background on the project, there would be no tolerance for delays or product failure. The product needed to be of highest quality, cut to exact dimensions to fit with stone pieces interwoven, and appropriate for a commercial space. It also needed to achieve the prescribed aesthetic and arrive on schedule.

Solution | Mosa Tile Checks all the Boxes

Creative Materials suggested Mosa tile as the best fit for the project. Mosa offers the highest quality standards for porcelain tile combined with a premium aesthetic that directly matched the vision desired. Mosa tile is rectified to industry-best tolerances which would allow for modularity with the stone pieces improving the likelihood of a successful installation and minimizing joint sizes for a cleaner aesthetic. Creative Materials was also aware that Novartis was seeking LEED certification for the building, and knew that Mosa is the only tile manufacturer to offer Cradle-to-Cradle Certified¹ porcelain tile.

Porcelain tile is often the best fit for commercial spaces such as Novartis because there are more aspects that can be controlled in a long-lasting product. Advances in manufacturing allow tile to achieve an almost exact aesthetic, but with the added benefit of the ability to control shade variation, size, and quantity, as well as technical specifications such as slip resistance. Simply put, tile can be manufactured to meet a need, natural stone cannot. Creative Materials is an expert in the sourcing and supply of tile for commercial projects and takes pride in understanding the complexities and needs of these spaces to help clients mitigate risks.


¹Mosa makes the world’s first and only Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM porcelain tile*, adhering to elevated standards of sustainability. These porcelains embody all of the TCNA-cited health, safety, and environmental benefits, and may also qualify a project for LEED. Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM is a certification mark licensed exclusively for the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. 
*Includes all Mosa tile collections and products excepting Classics Kho Liang le Collection, Mosa Colors 10×10, and glossy wall tiles: Models 1050, 16950, 16970, 16980, 17940, 17970, 17980, 20970, 20980, 5430

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