Boca Raton Innovation Campus was originally developed in the late 1960's and early 1970's by IBM as its North American Research and Development facility, where IBM developed the first personal computer.
The BRIC continues to rank among the most technologically advanced business parks in the United States today. Boca Raton Innovation Campus was ultimately completed as a 1.7MM SF mixed-use development, with one and three-story offices in an ideal campus setting, located in Boca Raton. The Boca Corporate Center is one of the largest single facility office complexes in South.
On March 31, 1970, some 3,500 people, led by IBM chairman Thomas J. Watson, Jr., attended the ceremonial dedication of IBM's new facility in Boca Raton, Fla. Designed by Marcel Breuer and Thomas Gatje, the site initially encompassed 620,000 square feet consisting of: a three-story administration and product test building of 220,000 square feet, a three-story development laboratory building of 96,000 square feet, a single-story building of 96,000 square feet, a cafeteria of 21,000 square feet, a distribution center of 178,000 square feet and a plant of 9,000 square feet.
The Boca Raton site was first operated by IBM's General Systems Division, which was responsible for the IBM System/3, IBM 1130 computing system and the IBM System/360 Model 20, and developed the IBM System/7, IBM Series/1 and the IBM System/3 Model 6 in the lab spaces. Other Boca "alumni" included the IBM 5110 computing system (transferred from Rochester), IBM 5120 computing system, IBM System/23, the IBM Personal Computer and some robotic systems.
By the mid-1980s, IBM Boca Raton covered 600 acres and occupied four million square feet of space (half of which was in leased buildings), and employed nearly 10,000 people.
The International Business Machines Corporation, nicknamed the "Big Blue", commissioned its facility in Boca Raton, Florida to the office of Marcel Breuer and Associates. IBM was a company that was literally redefining the term "future" through the very new application of information technology. The project architects were Marcel Breuer and Robert Gatje (longtime partner at his firm). When Breuer received this commission he was at the height of his career. He was an established, respected, well known architect and a mature designer, having been a former notorious student in the Weimer Bauhaus, also a close disciple of Walter Gropius.
The project responded to the need of rapid and significant expansion of the company in Florida, which would include offices, laboratories and support facilities, for the research, development and construction of what we call today state of the art of computer devices. The company already had some connections in the state which included NASA as one of their clients.
The pre-cast concrete ensemble by Marcel Breuer and Thomas Gatje for the IBM Offices, included a research laboratory, development and manufacturing facilities. Inaugurated in 1970, it was commissioned by the technological giant that was and is IBM - a company that was literally redefining the term "future" through the very new application of information technology.
According to Breuer himself, this project was related to his previous design for IBM at La Gaude, France, though the IBM Offices in Boca Raton, in South Florida (USA), represented a progress in relation to it, as it responded to a more complex program. The building ensemble raised on a clean, flat site, with no other buildings in its immediate surroundings, distant from anything that could be considered an urban center. This was a blank space at the time, designated, through a series of local policies, to become a regional technological hub, which IBM would be spearheading. This project was the starting point for expansion not only for IBM, but through this company, to the region, blurring the lines that defined the public and private realms, compacting them within the built ensemble of these facilities with the mission of converging growth and development towards a new reality.
The ensemble of buildings aligns itself with the movement that aspired to redefine the paths of modernism. The apparently unfinished raw surfaces evoked the original fresh spirit of the modern movement. It's incredible subtlety and simplicity as built environment, contributes decisively to represent this particular thematic approach to corporate architecture.
The buildings were designed to be efficient; they have a slender body, with a facade worked through its openings and brise-soleil for solar protection. The ensemble snakes over the site as a vertebra, elevated by expressive, though solid, concrete cast in place columns, which bifurcate to support the volume above, forming a single continuous structure. This monolithic sequence rests lightly and fluidly over the landscape. The elevated buildings allow the uninterrupted view of the site.