BillionToOne Union City

Design Meets DNA

Room to Grow

With BillionToOne’s rapid growth from promising start-up to molecular testing powerhouse, it became clear they needed mature office space and technological labs to keep in step with the demand for their commercially available non-invasive prenatal test (NIPT), UNITY. The company began in an incubator space in 2018, and later expanded into a 35,000-square-foot space in Tarlton’s Menlo Park Labs in 2021. Quickly outgrowing their Menlo Park space, BillionToOne (BTO) looked to us to design and deliver a space capable of supporting their scaling needs.

Serving as a springboard for continued growth, this new facility needed to be able to efficiently scale BTO’s sample processing ability while also being delivered in record time to ensure the continuity of their operations.

Bringing the A Team

To meet the project’s ambitious schedule, the design team from the previous Menlo Park space came together to work on this substantial expansion, leveraging embedded knowledge and working relationships to deliver cohesion and efficiency. Roles were clearly defined, project priorities were identified and served as guideposts when tradeoffs had to be made, and a spirit of problem solving characterized the working process.

Our team’s collaboration extended to the planning department of Union City, which was eager to grow the city’s life science footprint. Involving the local jurisdiction early and communicating often resulted in deeper engagement and a faster timeline for permits. These efforts paid off, with the 90,000-square-foot interior renovation taking twelve months from preliminary sketch to move-in.

BillionToOne Union City earned the Silicon Valley Business Journal Structures Award for Interiors – Small, which celebrates the renovation’s success as a highly-technical yet thoughtfully designed exemplification of BTO’s core values.

Early collaboration and communication between city staff and the development team set parameters and expectations for this property and site, and what we needed in terms of the application.”

Derek Farmer, Planning Manager, City of Union City

A proportionally spaced custom-hung array of lights depicts a giant helix, a visual reminder of BillionToOne’s mission.

DNA for Days

Investment in the cultural identity of the space was important to the client’s mission to unite employees in this new location. Custom-designed elements in the form of a helix reflect the company’s core focus on DNA and molecular diagnostics. Environmental graphics and unique brand-focused elements are  focused in common areas like the building’s expansive lobby, where a DNA-inspired mural reaches upward to new heights in tandem with a playful light installation, and a projection screen with interactive content is positioned along the path of travel. On the exterior, fabricated metal panels—perforated in a spiral pattern reminiscent of a DNA strand—clad prominent columns at the building’s corners, allowing a peek into the groundbreaking scientific work happening within. 

    Customized for Culture

    Supporting and building on BillionToOne’s internal culture, the design pairs amenity and efficiency—a break room can also serve as an all-hands presentation space. Black-out shades on the windows double as a large projection screen for company gatherings. Custom designed shelving accommodates a staff lunch tradition of ordering in, streamlining food delivery and allowing more time for socializing.


    Special care was taken to reflect the growing brand’s identity, from employee gathering hubs to the labs themselves, as a reminder of the client’s important mission to revolutionize molecular diagnostics by prioritizing patient-first detection and care.

    Purpose-Built Labs

    Unlike their previous lab spaces, which were inherited from other life science companies, BTO’s new headquarters is intentionally designed to support their process. Each lab space was built out for their exact workflows, including a separate, stand-alone centrifuge room to reduce noise, touch-sensitive doors to allow ease of passage, and custom modifications to package units to allow for cascading air pressure, ensuring the integrity of clean rooms.

    I’m really grateful for how all the teams worked so hard together throughout this project. They [took] ownership to make sure the timelines were hit, but also the quality was high as well. ”

    Oguzhan Atay, PhD, Co-founder & CEO, BillionToOne

    Growth Mindset

    BillionToOne’s Union City headquarters demonstrates the power of a strong designer-client collaboration to scale a highly technical, customized life science facility in record time to accommodate the expansion of a fast-growing company lauded as Silicon Valley’s latest unicorn. Responding to increased volume and demand for their commercialized fetal antigen NIPT product, UNITY, the new headquarters enables BillionToOne to efficiently scale their sample processing ability by 3-4x. “Our 5 year goal was to help 1 million patients and their doctors make confident medical decisions and remove that fear of the unknown. We have been scaling very quickly, growing 2x and 3x year over year, and as we continue to grow, this facility was a really important part of meeting that demand,” said Oguzhan Atay, BillionToOne’s CEO. 

    At nearly three times the size of their Menlo Park facility, this new build-to-suit space was designed with the future in mind, with infrastructure improvements that anticipate the addition of robotics and future technologies, offering the flexibility to grow and evolve. With no end to growth in sight, DES and Tarlton continue to support BillionToOne’s expansion plans and evolving space needs at additional sites.

    Key Info

    • Client BillionToOne
    • Use Life Science
    • Square Feet 90,000
    • Status Completed
    • Services Architecture
      Civil Engineering
      Interior Design
      Landscape Architecture
      Visual Communications

    The people behind the place

    • Diana Rangel

      Associate | Project Designer

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