Yesterday was the formal unveiling of the new Dassault Systèmes campus in Waltham MA, about 30 minutes from my office. Waltham lies on what used to be known as “America’s Technology Highway” (Route 128) in the 1980s, a ring road about 15 miles outside of Boston. Amazing companies got their start here — Data General, Digital Equipment, Computervision, PTC, and Solidworks — and many more high tech giants have located development centers here to take advantage of the talent coming from the areas’s universities. For DS, the real attraction to this space was the ability to finally co-locate its 3DVIA, Enovia and SolidWorks teams along with the staff from the Boston office. In all, close to 800 people will occupy the new facility, with room for an ultimate staff of 1000.

The buildings and site are showcases for sustainable innovation, using everything from special air-recycling paint, low-flow plumbing fixtures to smart light sensors to make the building energy efficient. The exterior of the building has been awarded LEED Gold certification by the US Green Building Council and the DS team expects to receive gold or platinum designation for the interior as well. I was guided around the building by 3DVIA CEO Lynne Wilson, who explained how the creative design of the interior was intended to facilitate collaboration and interaction. The open plan and play rooms (with game consoles, ping pong tables and unlimited soda and coffee) certainly would appear to do that. I was most impressed with the way the space was used. It appeared that, when standing, one could always see the outdoors from every desk and cube in the place. This gives the space an airy feel. The photo below of one of the “collaborations spaces” give the idea: lots glass, very clean lines, nothing tall to break sight-lines:

Before the tour, ribbon cutting and other hoopla, DS CEO Bernard Charlès and Al Bunshaft, Managing Director of DS Americas, offered a few remarks about DS, the move to Waltham and PLM in general:
• 2011 is going to close well, according to M. Charlès, and the focus now is on 2012
• Taking direct control of all of the accounts that used to be managed through IBM PLM meant that DS had to create a visitor experience that was much more polished than before. The new location includes meeting rooms, a virtual reality center and other spaces designed to showcase DS technology
• “People didn’t know the DS brand — they often thought CATIA was an IBM brand — so one goal of this building is to build the DS brand in North America”, said M. Charlès
• 3DVia is a more substantial brand that many realize, according to M. Charlès. He didn’t give a specific number but said that “it’s not $100 million but far greater than $10 million”.

I like ribbon-cutting ceremonies. They are positive, hopeful and upbeat — full of positive intentions about the future. That bright, shiny (now all-silver) DS logo is visible from quite a distance on “America’s Technology Highway”, 1000 high-tech jobs are staying in Massachusetts, a new state-of-the-art LEED campus. I’d say that’s very positive.

Note: DS provided lunch did not in any way influence the content of this post.