Key Statistics:

  • 865,000 square feet: Size of the largest property set for a 2024 delivery — phase two of Oyster Point in San Francisco
  • 10.9 million square feet: Current size of Boston’s life sciences pipeline, the largest amount under construction nationally
  • 38.3%: Expected increase of life sciences space in Boston upon completion of projects currently under construction
  • 104.8%: Growth in life sciences stock in San Francisco between 2014 and 2023, making it the fastest-growing market nationally by percentage

The U.S. life sciences real estate sector presents a dynamic picture in 2024. Completions are expected to reach record highs this year on the back of the construction surge the industry experienced during and after the pandemic. And, even as new projects are slowing down, allowing markets to adjust, and promising a drop in deliveries in the coming years, 2024 is still shaping up to be a strong year for life sciences construction.

Amidst this evolving landscape, groundbreaking scientific advancements — like AI-powered drug discovery; cell and gene therapies; and effective new drugs for obesity treatment — add to the growing demand for cutting-edge life sciences lab space.

So, using CommerciaEdge data, this report delves into the U.S. life sciences real estate sector by providing insights into current trends, historical context, and future prospects within the top markets.

Our analysis unfolds in three key sections:

  • Largest Life Sciences Projects: We begin with a focus on the most significant life sciences projects expected for completion in 2024, followed by a review of notable completions from 2023.
  • Under-Construction Pipeline: We analyze active construction pipelines as of 2024, offering insights into upcoming developments for this year and beyond.
  • Decade of Growth: We delve into the past decade to chart the markets with the largest growth, thereby revealing the sector’s trajectory and evolution.

San Francisco & San Diego Home to Largest Life Sciences Projects Set for 2024 Delivery

The West Coast heads the list of the top life sciences developments for 2024, boasting the two largest projects slated for completion in San Francisco and San Diego. These waterfront developments — part of a growing trend toward human-centric “mega campuses” — feature dedicated spaces for collaboration and recreation, both indoors and outdoors. However, when looking at the national landscape, Boston emerges as the leader by contributing half of the top 20 entries for 2024. San Diego follows with three projects, while San Francisco and Philadelphia each contribute two.

Leading the pack is Phase Two of Oyster Point in South San Francisco. Envisioned as a life sciences hub, this 865,000-square-foot development is part of a larger five-phase, $3 billion project by Kilroy. The new three buildings, dubbed “Gravitate,” are set to offer a 60/40 split of lab and office space to cater to the diverse needs of life sciences companies. Beyond its functionality, Oyster Point prioritizes a stimulating work environment featuring an outdoor amphitheater and recreational areas.

Holding the second spot is RaDD Block 2B, a 745,000-square-foot life sciences tower by IQHQ. This project marks a significant departure from San Diego’s established clusters, which are typically located in areas like Torrey Pines and UTC. Instead, RaDD ventures into the downtown district, aiming to establish a new foothold for the industry within this central hub. This bold move by IQHQ suggests a potential shift in San Diego’s life sciences landscape, which could pave the way for further downtown development. In the same vein, the other two San Diego projects in this year’s top 20 deliveries are located downtown.

Switching coasts, the third-largest project on the top life sciences deliveries list for this year is 101 College St. in New Haven, Conn. This 600,000-square-foot building, earmarked for completion in Q1, is large enough to secure Bridgeport-New Haven a spot among the top 10 markets in terms of life sciences space under construction. In this case, the building will act as a centerpiece for New Haven’s broader “Downtown Crossing” revitalization project, which spans the city’s Route 34 and bridges downtown with Yale New Haven Hospital. Notably, Yale University has signed on as an anchor tenant at 101 College St.

Staying in New England, Boston’s Seaport district continues its legacy of delivering innovative life science assets with 10 World Trade. This 17-story development, expected to be completed later in the year, challenges conventional design with floors increasing in size as they ascend. Plus, the building’s technological advancements are equally impressive, earning it double platinum status in both WiredScore and SmartScore — a first for the East Coast.

In recent years, Cambridge, Mass., and the Seaport district have been Boston’s primary spots for new life sciences development but, this year, Somerville, Mass., is rapidly emerging as a key player. Specifically, several significant projects are underway, including Assembly Innovation Park – Phase I by BioMed Realty and 74M (74 Middlesex Ave.) by Greystar, which rank as the sixth- and eighth-largest life sciences developments on the 2024 list, respectively.

Manhattan, Philadelphia, & Houston Join Boston as Top Spots for Life Sciences Completions in 2023

Lat year, Manhattan, Philadelphia, and Houston joined Boston as top spots for life sciences completions. Boston’s Seaport District, famed for its iconic glass towers, saw the completion of the largest life sciences project of the year, the 610,000-square-foot 400 Summer St.

Next, Manhattan’s West End Labs, a repurposed former Chrysler facility, showcased the potential of adaptive reuse in space-constrained markets. Then, Philadelphia’s One uCity Square project secured the third spot. Meanwhile, Houston’s Horizon Tower at TMC Helix Park marked the first of three projects from the city among the top 20 completions of 2023.

Explore the table below for details on the remaining projects.

Boston, San Francisco & San Diego Still Lead Life Sciences Construction

Boston, San Francisco and San Diego maintain their reputation as centerpieces of the U.S. life sciences industry with a combined 21 million square feet of life sciences space currently under construction. Yet, at the same time, the life sciences market is showing signs of decentralization from these traditional hubs with up-and-coming clusters like Philadelphia; White Plains, N.Y.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; and the Winston-Salem-Greensboro, N.C., areas attracting attention.

First, Boston stands out as the life sciences market boasting the most active pipeline in the nation. Currently, 10.9 million square feet are under construction, with a projection of more than 7.5 million square feet completed by year's end. This surge represents a substantial 38.3% increase in Boston's life sciences market and makes up a third of ongoing construction across the top 10 markets. Notably, Boston’s position as the largest U.S. life sciences market continues to attract major players in the field, exemplified by Novo Nordisk's recent full-building lease in Waltham. Moreover, with life sciences accounting for a 9.8% share of Boston's commercial real estate market, it serves as a cornerstone of the city's success, securing its leading position in national office market development.

The runner-up in life sciences development, San Francisco, solidified its position as the second-largest life sciences market. Currently, this market has 5.7 million square feet of life sciences space under construction, with roughly 4.6 million square feet slated for completion this year, offering hope amid challenges faced by traditional office spaces. In particular, South San Francisco, renowned as a hub for lab development, remains busy with activity, featuring a number of completed and ongoing waterfront projects offering top-tier amenities. Notably, Kilroy’s Oyster Point Phase 2 emerges as the nation’s largest anticipated life sciences delivery this year.

Rounding out the top three, San Diego boasts nearly a total of 4.3 million square feet of ongoing life sciences construction, reflecting a substantial 36.9% increase in its existing life sciences inventory. Although its construction growth is slightly slower than the top two, it nevertheless holds the highest share of life sciences space (10.5%) out of all office space among these leading markets.

Next — and leading the “emerging markets” pack — is Philadelphia with more than 1.6 million square feet under construction presently. Despite that label, the city has a rich history in cell and gene research, spearheaded by groundbreaking work at the University of Pennsylvania. Accordingly, the City of Brotherly Love strategically leverages its talent pool in the cell and gene therapy sector to expand its biomanufacturing capabilities, aligning with rising demand. In particular, projects like 3201 Cuthbert St. will offer manufacturing suites alongside advanced R&D.

Up next, the White Plains, N.Y., life sciences market punched well above its weight by securing fifth place in the ranking. Currently, it has 1.1 million square feet of life sciences space under construction, almost all of which – approximately 0.9 million square feet – is actually set to be completed beyond this year. Notably, the under-construction pipeline in White Plains surpasses that of New York City’s boroughs, making it the sole entry from the state in the top 10. With a solid foundation in life sciences, anchored by its universities and medical centers, Westchester County fosters a diverse ecosystem supported by incubator programs, startups, and industry leaders such as Regeneron.

Not to be outdone, Raleigh-Durham’s life sciences sector in North Carolina continues its steady growth trajectory with more than 1 million square feet of new space currently under development. This expansion adds to the existing 6.2 million square feet, cementing the region’s position as a major player in the national landscape. A key contributor to this growth is the thriving research environment anchored by world-class universities. However, its additional strengths include a pro-business climate with competitive tax rates; streamlined regulations; and, crucially, attractive energy costs.

Remaining in North Carolina, the Triad market (Greensboro – Winston-Salem), rounds out the life sciences markets with at least 1 million square feet of space currently under development. However, this metro’s square footage is driven by a single project — the second phase of the Innovation Quarter in Winston-Salem. Residing on either side of the city’s Research Parkway, this new development builds upon the first phase that was completed more than 10 years ago.

San Francisco Experiences Largest 10-Year Market Growth Rate In Last Decade (2014-2023)

A retrospective of the last 10 years across the U.S. markets with the most life sciences space added is undoubtedly shaped by the boom in the sector around 2021. That said, some top growth markets — like San Diego (2016-2017) and Seattle (2018-2019) — experienced their strongest year-over-year expansion outside of this post-pandemic period.

Entering 2014 in the pole position in terms of the largest life sciences market, Boston has gone from strength to strength, adding more than 11.4 million square feet of stock to its inventory. In raw numbers, this was quite comfortably the largest addition among the top markets between 2014 and 2023.

Meanwhile, San Francisco — the runner-up in terms of total square footage added — boasts the most impressive growth rate among the top U.S. life sciences markets. During the last decade, its market size has more than doubled with a 104.8% increase, translating to 7.2 million square feet of added space. Notably, this expansion propelled San Francisco ahead in the U.S. life sciences market size rankings: Starting behind its West Coast counterparts in 2014, the city surpassed the Bay Area in 2018 and San Diego in 2021.

Up next, San Diego added 2.8 million square feet of space for the third-highest total in the same period. However, hot on its heels was Seattle with 2.2 million square feet of additional space. In fact, Seattle’s life sciences market has grown by 97.6% compared to its size 10 years ago, making it the second-fastest-growing market in terms of percentage among the top 10 markets.

Rounding out the top performers, the past decade witnessed consistent year-over-year expansion in the Bay Area and Raleigh-Durham, N.C., which added 1.9 and 1.7 million square feet of life sciences space, respectively. Otherwise, Chicago’s trajectory began around 2019 with a sharp rise culminating in 1.2 million square feet added during the decade. Interestingly, Philadelphia (unlike the others) saw a recent surge in the last two years to push its total added space past the 1 million mark for the entire period. Lastly, Manhattan’s growth was defined by two distinct leaps in market size occurring between 2017 to 2018 and 2022 to 2023.


All property and market data is courtesy of CommercialEdge. Individual building data and market stats were extracted on February 8, 2024, and are subject to change. For the purposes of data accuracy, only life sciences buildings or mixed-use buildings containing life sciences office space larger than 25,000 square feet were included.

The list of largest life sciences building completions in 2024 includes properties that have already been completed as of the publication of this article. While CommercialEdge attempts to ensure the accuracy of projected completion dates, final completion and opening dates may differ.