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Thursday
May032012

Being Green Makes Work Life at Genzyme a Dream

  Genzyme Atrium

Since Boston is a hub for green technology, I thought it would be interesting to see how being green enhances work life by focusing on Genzyme's award-winning, environmentally responsible corporate headquarters in Cambridge.  

Rick Mattila, Director of Environmental Affairs at Genzyme shared his knowledge by giving me a "blow your mind" tour of the building. Rick has been a key player in developing Genzyme's environment for over 20 years, both locally and internationally, while Genzyme had evolved into becoming one of the largest biotechnology companies worldwide. Last year, Genzyme was acquired by the pharmaceutical company Sonofi and is now a Sonofi company. 

I was interested in knowing how green tech design affects Genzyme's staff and the community at large. Rick's passions happen to lean towards how the building impacts people including patients, employees and community. These were his thoughts.

The transparent nature of the building was purposeful in enhancing visual communication among employees within the building, making it easier to have spontaneous meetings.  It also provides employees with views to the outside environment (enhancing their well-being) and to the community to reinforce that connection.  From the outside, neighbors can see in and get a sense of our openness and transparency as a corporation. Having a green building that reduces the impact on the environment follows our safety and environmental management statement that includes: We want our corporate and residential neighbors to be proud to have Genzyme in their communities.

The tour program that we instituted provides an open invitation to the local and broader community to come into our building and experience its green design features.  It also provides an opportunity for the architectural, engineering and construction industry professionals and students in those fields to observe this unique green building.  We want others to see the design and hopefully inspire them to think deeply about the designs of their own buildings.  It is apparently working as Genzyme Center was chosen in a 2010 survey of green building experts by Architecture Magazine, as the third most important green building in the world.

As we stood on the top floor overlooking the 12-story atrium and the magnificent mirrored mobile that helps control light, employees were all around us having meetings in this fluid open space. Even though we were standing close by, I couldn't hear a sound. There were no distractions, no walls or barriers and the environment seemed so stimulating and beautiful, almost like being in a contemporary art museum. Approximately 75% of employees have access to natural light or views to the outdoors and from what I am told, the building yields 42% savings in electricity costs. The light enhancement system brings natural light in through mirrors that are completely automated and track the movement of the sun across the sky. The fixed mirrors, in return, reflect light to multiple prismatic louvers which fill the atrium with this light. Perhaps more information than you need to know and way better to see it in person...This design allows all people to enjoy daylight while indoors without having to think about it. What a positive healthy atmosphere to get inspired and to create and interact in while working towards improving the lives of patients worldwide.

If you have an interest in the environment, green tech or simply seeing a stunning building, I highly suggest taking a free tour of the facility. The LEED Platinum rated Genzyme Center plays host to over 900 of the biotech company’s employees and around 25,000 people have passed through on group tours since the building opened in 2004. You will see great art, extensive indoor gardens, and incredible architecture. The building was designed by Behnisch, Behnisch, and Partners out of Venice, California.

Genzyme is a slice of the multitude of ways greater Boston demonstrates being a global leader within the green innovation movement and a great place to work.

Rick will be retiring after 20 years from Genzyme. Genzyme's headquarters is a testament to the impact he has had during his career there. 

Thank you Rick!

A version of this post recently appeared in Boston.com's Global Business Hub

 

Thursday
May032012

Welcome to Cambridge Sony DADC!

 

Chris Mauracher, SVP, Sony DADC, Denise Simmons, Vice-Mayor of Cambridge, Susan Windham-Bannister, President, CEO, Mass LIfe Sciences Center, Ali Tinazli, Ph.D, Director Business Development and Sales, Sony DADC, BioSciences - North America

New city, INC recently had the honor of welcoming and assisting Ali Tinazili, Ph.D. and his family transition to Cambridge from Germany. Ali, Sony DADC's Director of Business Development and Sales, BioSciences - North America, recently moved here to set up a Cambridge business development office to target sales of components to Massachusetts medical device makers. 

Who would have known that Japanese electronics giant Sony would be expanding into the medical technology world. Smart move for Sony Digital Audio Disc Corp to land stakes in Cambridge to produce microchips and circuit boards for the fertile group of medical gear companies in the area. Their work of precision manufacturing is presently being produced in Salzburg, Austria, but as production builds, manufacturing of these medical components will take place in Terr Haute, Indiana. Cambridge will be Sony DADC's corporate location here in the U.S.

The Bio-tech world continues to grow and stand out on the global map here in our backyard. 

 

 

Friday
Apr062012

Growing Roots In Local Neighborhood Grocery Stores

Brothers Marc and Crosby Najarian, owners of Fresh Pond Market, Cambridge, MAWith the spirit of the newcomer in mind, I had a great time meeting the owners of a handful of local grocery stores in the Boston/Cambridge area. There are incredible shops in our neighborhoods that not only provide special products, services and food, but each has a unique way of enhancing community. I asked the owners how they bring people together. 

Rene' Becker, owner of High-Rise Bakery in the upscale Avon Hill area of Cambridge sells baked items, lunch and dinner to go, preserves, and fine wines (inspired by Rene’s extensive travel as a food critique for Boston Magazine). It's also a place to relax with friends where you will often find moms and kids congregating mid mornings on the long French antique farm table. I remember bringing my daughter here when she was young, after a romp on the playground, to share their perfect homemade toast and jam with friends. Not to mention grabbing a great bottle of wine to help me get through those high maintenance mommy evenings. Owner of High-Rise Bakery, Rene' Becker and me.Rene said, "Hi-Rise is a real nexus for many people in the neighborhoods known as Huron Village, Observatory Hill, and Avon Hill. It's a great place for friends to gather for a cup of coffee in the morning, lunch, tea in the afternoon, and weekend brunch. One of the best features of the Hi-Rise is the wine selection. It's a nifty collection of about 36 reasonably priced, hand-picked whites, red and rosés. Never a bum bottle! They all go with Hi-Rise dinners, available Monday through Friday evenings after 5." Hi-Rise will soon be opening up a new bakery at 1663 Massachusetts Ave. in Harvard Square, Cambridge.

The Fresh Pond Market is down the road in quaint Huron Village near Fresh Pond Parkway. It‘s run by the Nagarian Brothers and has been in the family since 1930. (see photo above).  There are no pretentions about this place and even though Star Market and Whole Foods are nearby, the very real, personalized service that they offer is undoubtedly why they have thrived for so long. Ordering the special roasted chicken in a bag along with the wide variety of produce, wines and general grocery staples are one thing; but they often offer to bring your bags to the car, respect and respond to any special requests in the fresh meats department, and go out of their way to keep their service personal and friendly. Marc Nagarian told me, “I don’t do computers or have a website, but focus on real connections with long time loyal and new customers." This is a great example of hands-on community building. LOVE these guys.

Another family run business on Huron Ave is Formaggio Kitchen, which has been in Cambridge for 30 years, owned by Ihsan and Valerie Gurdal and run by their son Kurt. 

Kurt Gurdal, General Manager in Formaggio Kitchen's cheese cellarThey also own South End Formaggio on Shawmut Ave in Boston’s South End. They have built their desire to bring the European-style of neighborhood shopping to Cambridge and Boston. Both are gourmet food shops specializing in artisan cheeses, charcuterie, hand made sweets, staples for your pantry and gifts for food lovers. Cheese is their passion and what they do best. They have over 300 kinds of cheeses and their own cheese caves below the Cambridge store. They have a kitchen, bakery, produce area and bread counter. You will find cooking classes, take out food and events. In relation to feeling welcome and being a part of the community, Kurt said: "As a small, family-run business, all of our staff members pride themselves on the little things, whether it’s remembering your favorite cheese or which type of croissant you prefer. We’ve been a neighborhood shop for more than thirty years, and we’ve been seeing many of the same faces since day one. We are committed not only to providing top-notch service and products, but also to maintaining and strengthening our ties to the community."  Amen...

 

Sofra, on the Cambridge/Watertown line (a personal favorite), is a vibrant and unique bakery café filled with exotic influences from around the Eastern Mediterranean. Half of Sofra’s menu is created by a talented pastry team lead by co-owner Maura Kilpatrick who is known for both her sweet and savory pastries. You’ll find no cupcakes here, but you will find lamejun, fatayer, baklava, kunefe, and ma’amoul. Chef and co-owner Ana Sortun (owner of Oleana Restaurant) brings to the menu a diverse selection of flatbreads, shawarmas, savory pies and breakfast specialties that are not to be missed. There is a meze bar available daily which highlights a seasonal selection of 12 different items that cover a spectrum of flavors. Sit on the kilim draped banquets and enjoy a Turkish coffee on one of the copper drum tables. Outdoor seating is also available during warmer months. While not a traditional food retailer, you will find fresh mediterranean spices, local whole grains, exotic vinegars and molasses, and outstanding oils. They also produce an ever-changing selection of house made canned goods that highlight the family’s organic farm produce (Siena Farms, Sudbury MA). Ana said: “Sofra attracts a sense of community because we are a unique bakery and café.  Above all, we are a neighborhood kind of place.  I hope people come in to see what is so special – and that they come back to see what is new next time, too.” FYI a great gift is Ana Sortun's Spice book, accompanied by a sampling of spices. Heaven

 

Central Bottle Wine + Provisions is a wonderful wine and provision shop on Massachusetts Ave in Cambridge, near MIT.  They offer an impressive selection of small production, handcrafted, sustainable, organic and biodynamic wines and tasty gourmet and homemade foods from local farms, cheeses, preserves, jarring and Iggy’s bread.  As far as community enhancement, they host private tastings, wine clubs and bars, cheese classes, wine education classes and on and on. They also partner with Flour Bakery next door pairing wines with Flour’s ever changing take out menu. Owners of Central Bottle, Maureen Rubino and Liz Vilardi Owner Maureen Rubino says: "Our whole goal was to recreate a Venetian enoteca right here in Cambridge - to offer an intimate place to gather, eat cicchetti, drink and buy wine all in the same location.  The shop is blossoming into something that is really guest-centric.  I feel like a host when we open our doors and we have a party every day!  Our staff speaks multiple languages and offers choices to our guests that remind them of home.  We are all like family and friends." Maureen's partners Liz Vilardi and Nick Zappia own The Blue Room (www.theblueroom.net), a fabulous neighborhood restaurant celebrating its 20th year in Kendall Square.

Chef Barbara Lynch’s The Butcher Shop in Boston’s South End, is a tribute to the old world butcheries and inspired by her travels throughout France and Italy. It’s a full service butcher shop and wine bar, serving creative small bites and meals. The retail section features a full time butcher and cases stocked with meats, poultry and game, as well as an ever-changing selection of provisions and prepared items (the homemade bolognese to go is a killer).Photo credit: Justin Ide Barbara commented on bringing a sense of community into the shop, "Food is an awesome community builder and The Butcher Shop is a unique place. I love that guests can stop in to connect with friends and family over a glass of wine or a meal at the restaurant, or at home after a quick stop at our butcher and retail case. The butcher block is really cool - often times, people stopping in to pick something up or meet after work hang out and have a glass of wine and make new friends! It is a real neighborhood spot." Barbara also added, "We offer a meat CSA each month. Our butchers order a local, sustainably raised animal and break it down during a weekend demonstration open to all. Then, over several weeks, people who have purchased shares stop in and pick up a wide variety of items made in-house from the animal, like sausage, steaks, pate, and bolognese. As well as cooking classes next-door at Stir... our 3 locations (B&G, TBS, Stir) are like a little community and definitely inspire plenty of conversation!"

  

 Deluca’s Markets on Charles and Newbury streets are staples in the community. The Charles Street location (now being rebuilt from a devastating fire) has been in that location for 100 years. Owner, Virgil Aiello and his staff offer dedicated personal service and highest quality food products ranging from cornflakes to caviar. When I went to college way back (no disclosure here), Deluca’s was my neighborhood grocery to pick up anything…home away from home. A friend has gotten the pate' there since the 70’s. After a horrible fire on Charles Street, they are about to re-open their wine, beer and liquor cellar and soon after, the grocery store. Deluca’s delivers to anyone in Back Bay and Beacon Hill. 

Wojtek serving locals at a DeLuca's Back Bay wine tasting.  Virgil told me "that at DeLuca's serving customers is a way of life. We are a part of the community. The store is their store.  It is almost a daily part of peoples' routine and sometimes more than once a day. We try to make a visit to the shop a mixture of the ordinary and the sublime or maybe what we try to do is make the ordinary be sublime.  And we do this in the care we take in the quality and selection of our products so that as an example we can fulfill needs from ordinary sugar and salt to Indian Saffron and Madagascar Vanilla."

 

Finally and certainly not least, a neighborhood gem in the South End is Foodies Urban Market. Friends that live in the South End say Foodies ROCKS. I have to say, I agree after checking it out and spending time with Victor the owner. Owner, Victor Leon Sr, with son and General Manager, Victor Leon Jr.  The market is family owned and run and was originally started by Victor Leon Sr. in 1998, and now run by his son, Victor Leon Jr. Director of Operations. Victor Jr. says, "The South End Foodies Market is a genuine neighborhood market that reflects the diversity of the community. We serve everything from high end hard to find gourmet ingredients to WIC accepted staples. We also have sales that change every other week. Foodie's is a neighborhood meeting place and the people who work here have done so for many years and have genuine relationships with our customers"

 

 Stay tuned as we explore ethnic grocery stores soon...

Sunday
Apr012012

Run, Don't Walk...to the Native American Exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum

Karen Kramer Russel, Curator, Native American Art and Culture, PEM in front of "Theatre de Cristal" (aka the crystal tipi), by Kent Monkman

I had the pleasure of taking a personalized tour with friends this week of Shapeshifting: Transformations in Native American Art, the much talked about Native American art exhibit at the beautiful Peabody Essex Museum. Karen Kramer Russell, exhibition curator and PEM's curator of Native American Art and Culture, gave a heartfelt and insightful perspective of the show. Karen created the idea and traveled the world seeking contemporary and traditional art and artifacts. What I love about "Shapeshifting" is the contrast of the old with the new along with the vast variety of work displayed. It's a bold take-off from exhibits that display only Native American artifacts from long ago... "Shapeshifting" is one of the largest Native American Art exhibitions to open in North America in more than 30 years. Here you will find 80 works from public and private collections worldwide. The show offers a fresh way of seeing Native American Art through a range of media that links together historical and contemporary works, all presented in four unique thematic installations entitled Changing, Knowing, Locating, and Voicing. The museum's intent was to "shift" how Native American art is exhibited and understood. You will see that they jumped this crevice.

There's not much time. The show closes April 29....Enjoy!

Monday
Mar262012

Innovation Open To All: Citizen Schools In The Innovation District

 

Students in the Citizen Schools program getting first-hand lab experience with ‘Citizen Teacher’ volunteer from Biogen Idec.

Starts ups in the Innovation District (ID) have received their fair share of coverage recently, but they're not alone as innovators. Non-profits have taken the innovation mantle and produced remarkable results. 

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending an executive briefing for Citizen Schools at Fidelity Investments in the ID. Speakers included representatives from Fidelity and Google, middle school principals from Boston, the CEO, alumni and staff of Citizen Schools. I was impressed with what this organization is doing to develop the potential in middle school students to nurture a love of learning that will inspire them to succeed in high school, college, work, and civic life.

Citizen Schools partners with middle schools to extend the learning day for children in low-income communities. Its staff and volunteers partner with public schools to boost student achievement, help schools reach their full potential, and to re-imagine education in America. Their model is proving itself and they have expanded to 6 other states. Heavyweights such as Google, Bank of America, and Fidelity fund the organization and Citizen Schools has gained tremendous momentum through this support.

Whether you are a newcomer or from the area, there are numerous ways to volunteer and help grow these programs, including volunteer teaching in the afternoon hours, sponsoring a team, promoting leadership opportunities and more.

Eric Schwarz, cofounder and CEO of Citizen Schools said:

"Citizen Schools makes it possible for people from all walks of life to get in the classroom and teach what they know and love. Our staff people work with thousands of volunteers each year, including individual volunteers with a passion that they want to share and groups of employees from companies like Fidelity, Bank of America, Cognizant, and Google that support our work here in Boston and across the country. "

Sheila Cavanuagh, Senior Vice President, Fidelity Investments shared:

"Fidelity believes in the transformative power of Citizen Schools' extending learning time model to improve the academic trajectory of the students it serves. For more than ten years, we have proudly and successfully partnered with Citizen Schools to help ensure that the students we mentor, as well as those we sponsor through the 8th Grade Academy, graduate from high school and are well-prepared for college or a career. The ongoing commitment of Fidelity's employees as Citizen teachers, combined with the support of a superb team of Citizen School leaders, is a great example of how business can enhance educational outcomes and invigorate progress at the grassroots level."

Here are two special short videos that highlight work with volunteers:

Roy Fralin, Fidelity volunteer:

Cheryl Desjardin, Fidelity volunteer: 

This is an important slice of how Boston is growing our students and our city. 

A version of this post recently appeared in Boston.com's Global Business Hub