The Architecture of Indoor Agriculture

2016 saw the completion of Helicon’s design and construction drawings for Mass Medi-Spa’s medical marijuana grow facility and dispensary in Norwell, Massachusetts. Construction is scheduled for spring 2017, with the company opening operations later in the year.

Helicon began preliminary design with Mass Medi-Spa in 2015, surveying a wide variety of grow facility prototypes, operations and mechanical systems. This innovative Massachusetts facility included the Owner’s plans for state-of-the-art indoor grow lighting systems that emulate the natural light intensity of morning, afternoon and evening sunlight, as well as sustainable techniques that will produce extremely low agricultural waste from the year-round operation.

Mass Medi-Spa is also engaged in studies with Vermont-based PhytoScience Institute to process specific product strains meant for use in alternative chronic pain management and for the reduction and dependence on opioid painkillers. Current practitioners are seeing substantial benefits with medical marijuana in the treatment of chronic pain, reductions in sleep disruption and other opioid side effects.

AKF of Boston has provided full mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering for the facility, which will average approximately five full grow cycles per year in the 2-story, 40,000 square foot facility.

The facility will also include a retail dispensary, corporate offices, a research and development lab, and extraction and processing areas to provide medical cannabis and medical cannabis infused products to Mass Med-Spa’s estimated 6,000 patients.

Along with the Owner’s design team, Helicon helped coordinate Massachusetts DPH regulatory requirements and finalize special finishes and other interior features which will control moisture and mold effects on year-round indoor crops. There will also be extensive interior and exterior security features to the building, including redundant monitoring, restricted internal access and other architectural fortifications.

The windowless nature of such production facilities often result in featureless warehouses. Helicon employed limited glass and a scheme of three different metal panel types to give the new Mass-Medi Spa building a modern exterior appearance. The effect is a crisp, geometric and forward-looking structure that compliments the budgetary concerns of a flagship operation.

Helicon is a full-service architecture and design firm in Boston emphasizing design innovation across a wide variety of project types and budgets since 1991.

Contact or 617-357-4437 for more information.


Thirty-Five Years of Design:
Building Everything from Shops to Dot-coms

You’ll find that header on the “Company” page about Helicon, on this newest version of Helicon’s website.

Over the years, in between the shops and dot-coms, there have been a bunch of cousins and newcomers. We’ve built houses, furniture showrooms, and doctors’ offices. We’ve converted an abandoned hospital into office space, designed offices for a start-up magazine and a venerable old one that’s been publishing for over a century. We’ve made stage sets for performance artists.

It’s been said that architects are generalists — knowing something about a lot of different things. Each client, each building, each function brings a unique blend of demands. Each has required us to adapt to changing lifestyles and changing materials.

We’ve come to understand the need for that role very well over the years — and its value. Each of the projects shown here required us to learn a lot about people and their specific environments and bring all that forward to the next one.

And the next one, and the next after that.

This version of Helicon’s site, our third since the firm began in 1991, gave us a chance to look back on that process — the one that has made us the adaptive generalists we are in 2016.

While markets and tastes change, one thing does not: the need for efficient design that also inspires.

As we looked back, we saw some projects with impossible deadlines, challenging budgets, and last-minute changes. We saw solutions that were hard-fought and hard-won. We also saw a common thread: the passion of the project’s owners. We were fortunate to have been involved with them. We were fortunate to have contributed to such energy and creativity.

We hope you will spend some time looking at and enjoying these projects along with us… and find design that works, design that delights.

– Eric Gould