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Posted In: News

Dassault Systèmes opens Waltham campus

By on Dec. 08, 2011


Hot technology start-ups may be flocking to Kendall Square and the Seaport District, but one of the area’s largest software companies is planting its flag in Waltham – a sign that for big tech companies, Boston’s Route 128 suburban corridor is still the place to be.

The French product design software company Dassault Systèmes will open its new North American headquarters in Waltham today, bringing 850 employees from Lowell and Concord to a sleek new 27-acre campus on the edge of Route 128.

The 128 corridor is “the epicenter of the technology community in the Boston area,’’ said Albert Bunshaft, managing director of North America operations for Dassault Systèmes. “This will be a center for us to bring our most important clients from the Americas and around the world.’’

Dassault, founded in 1981, came to Massachusetts in 1997, when it bought Concord software company SolidWorks Inc. for $316 million. In 2006 Dassault acquired MatrixOne of Westford for $408 million.

The company has added 125 employees in Massachusetts over the past year, Bunshaft said.

“We are absolutely committed to growing,’’ he said.

The 320,000-square-foot Waltham complex, with its walls of windows and sharp silver edges, was built on the site of a former Hewlett-Packard manufacturing facility. Its neighbors include such tech giants as Raytheon Co., Oracle Corp., and Adobe Systems Inc. The campus is just 12 miles from one of Dassault’s biggest rivals, software maker PTC, in Needham.

“One of our biggest competitors is here, and we want everyone to know we are here,’’ said Bernard Charles, Dassault’s chief executive, who was in Massachusetts yesterday in advance of the opening.

Charles said the new headquarters will serve as a showcase for visiting customers and to attract prospective employees. In its state-of-the-art theater, customers will be able to test Dassault products, such as its advances in 3D imaging technology, for example. The campus itself, meanwhile, will be a showpiece to attract tech workers.

“Being on Route 128 is still a premiere location,’’ said David Begelfer, chief executive of the commercial real estate company NAIOP Massachusetts.

Begelfer acknowledged that within the state’s tech community, Cambridge is a hot location that attracts biotech and life sciences companies in particular, thanks to its proximity to university talent. Just this summer, biotech giant Biogen Idec Inc. announced it would move its headquarters back to Cambridge from Weston, where it relocated in 2010.

Still, Begelfer said, “there is a tremendous value and reason for being out in the suburbs, such as access to labor.’’

Indeed, Oracle closed a $16 million deal to buy a 93,000-square-foot property in Burlington yesterday.

Being suburban has its benefits, among them the opportunity to design an employee garden, which Dassault says may be planted in the spring.

That was one idea from the company’s “green team,’’ said Asheen Phansey, a Dassault product manager.

Making the Waltham complex a green facility was a Dassault priority, and it is relying on employees to help keep it that way.

“We’re a building full of engineers,’’ Phansey said, “so there are some creative ways to get that done.’’

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