In 2013 Small Design Firm was asked to create a museum for the global biotechnology leader Biogen in the lobby of their headquarters in Cambridge, MA. The museum lobby features nine individual installations that introduce visitors to all aspects of the company, from it’s legacy of innovation in medical therapies to the diverse staff that create them.
illustrates the process that a compound makes from the lab to a viable medical therapy. The installation is a purpose built wall divided into sections by shelves and glass wedges. These sections correspond to the three phases of clinical trials. Each contains a screen and several lit boxes. An RFID antenna is placed below each screen.
Placing one of the appropriate compound vials over this antenna displays a description of that compound. When no vial is present the phase number and description will be shown on the screen. Placing a vial from a different phase on the active area displays a return prompt.
represents the fulfillment of Biogen Idec’s mission to translate research into medicine that improves lives. The interactive exhibit conists of a grid structure holding six displays and five glowing shelves. An avatar of each of Biogen Idec’s current products is located on the shelves. One of these shelves holds an RFID antenna. Placing one of the tagged products on the active shelf displays a description of the product over all six of the screens.
consists of a series of live terrariums, gauges, character displays, a water flow system and a single screen. The arrangement provides a striking backdrop to a small seating area. Each terrarium represents one of the buildings at our Cambridge site and is linked to a structure representing Biogen Idec’s cogeneration plant. The information displayed on the screen, gauges and character displays is drawn from Biogen Idec’s steam plant instrumentation. The screen receives new historical data each morning and the gauges and character displays are updated with live data at five minute intervals throughout the day.
We had the great fortune to be able to work with some amazing artists on our Biogen project. Jeff Lieberman (Plebian Design) and Bill Washabaugh (Hypersonic Engineering) created Breaking Wave, an anamorphic kinetic sculpture that entrances and beguiles visitors. The kinetic sculpture embodies the complexity of getting a new therapy to market. Success requires many pieces to come together at the right moment – it is an exercise in perseverance and patience. In Breaking Wave, thousands of moving parts coalesce into a meaningful shape only from a particular viewpoint.
Plebian Design and Hypersonic, the creators of Breaking Wave, explain, “Perspective changes everything. Sometimes what seems like chaos contains structure, like the underlying patterns of the universe or the cause of a disease.”
Facets of History
highlights Biogen’s rich history. The exhibit consists of two glowing tables. The main table is projected on from above. An RFID antenna is located under the center of the table and a capacitive button near the edge. The side table consists of sixteen glowing pockets, one for each story object. Each pocket has an RFID antenna below it. Visitors are prompted to pick up an object from the side table and place it on the main table. Doing so displays a series of images, video and text about the selected story. Visitors can navigate through the content using the button.
The back wall of the lobby highlights the CEOs and scientists that have contributed to Biogen Idec’s success. Thirteen scientists and seven CEOs have physical portraits. On the left of the wall is a screen and wheel which visitors can interact with. When no one is interacting with the wall the screen displays important people who do not have physical portraits on the wall. Approaching the screen triggers a prompt asking the visitor to turn the wheel. Turning the wheel takes the visitor through important events and people in Biogen Idec’s history.
Who We Are
introduces visitors to the diversity of Biogen. Who We Are is a large grid structure holding ten double-sided displays and proximity sensors to detect the presence of people both inside the lobby and on the sidewalk. Approaching the exhibit from either inside or out triggers a video story of a person describing how Biogen Idec has influenced their life. The stories come from employees, scientists and patients.
is a cocktail height table with a strip of six screens embedded along its center. The displays rotate through scientific images entered into an internal Biogen Idec art competition. Sitting at any of the four interaction points displays a short piece of text describing Biogen Idec’s commitment to research research.