Philadelphia, PA - The Almac Group, a provider of integrated research, development, and manufacturing to the pharmaceutical industry, announces the groundbreaking for its new North American headquarters. After completing the master plan, Francis Cauffman Architects finished the preliminary design for the first two buildings on the 40-acre site. The Almac Group consolidated its operations in Lower Salford Township, northwest of Philadelphia, in an area that is home to a number of top-tier international businesses. Almac received $9 million in state funding for the $70 million headquarters, which will generate hundreds of new jobs over the next several years. Now in construction, the first two buildings will be operational in early 2010.
The new headquarters creates an American environment that reflects the image and work ethic of the international company, which has its global headquarters in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. The first phase provides 240,000 square feet of space in two buildings: a 165,000-square-foot clinical packaging/production and warehouse building and a 75,000-square-foot corporate office building. These facilities will house two of Almac's five divisions, the Clinical Technologies and Clinical Services divisions, which will share corporate resources. Future buildings on the site will allow further expansion of Almac's activities.
Almac Chairman Sir Allen McClay said that the company needed to consolidate its operations, which had been distributed among several sites. McClay explained, "Right now, Almac is seeking to grow its American presence and expand its operations. The new headquarters is a great step forward. It supports our vision to be at the forefront of developing ‘superior solutions for the advancement of human health.'" The Almac Group works with all types of companies worldwide, from major pharmaceutical companies to small biotech startups, in areas such as cancer, AIDS, and cardiovascular disease. The first phase of its new headquarters, which is designed to accommodate growth over the next five years, will be fully occupied in 2013.
According to Richard A. Beck, AIA, Francis Cauffman's Director of Design, the buildings express the synergy between Almac's North American operations and its global headquarters in Northern Ireland. Beck explained that the design emerged from a close collaboration between Francis Cauffman and Almac's team in Northern Ireland. He said, "Our design team worked closely with Ken Geary, an Almac Steering Committee member and architect, to maintain the organization's European image, while adapting its business environment to the way that corporate America works. We also gave Almac a distinct and integrated identity that would set a foundation for growth. The two buildings are strongly related through materials and massing, which make them read visually as two parts of a whole."
Francis Cauffman also selected materials that maintain a connection with Almac's European properties. The exterior surfaces have polished brick, zinc panels, dark bronze mullions, and large areas of glass, which echo many of the materials used in their European facilities. The building's shape also reflects the company's European culture and its desire for natural light: Francis Cauffman stretched the low, horizontal building across the site in order to incorporate enormous expanses of glass.
To maintain confidentiality between clients and provide a high level of security, Francis Cauffman divided the office building into two zones - the public zone and the office zone. These zones are separated vertically by the main lobby and a large, glass-enclosed staircase that rises the height of the building. The corner of the third floor houses the boardroom, a glass-enclosed space that overlooks the production building. From this level, Almac representatives can escort potential clients directly across a connecting bridge to the production and warehouse building.
John Campbell, Francis Cauffman's Principal in charge of Workplace Strategies, described how "the office areas reflect Almac's European business culture, which prioritizes openness." Workstations are clustered around the perimeter of the building, giving views of the outdoors to as many as 95 percent of Almac's employees. Private offices and breakout spaces for meetings, located at the building's core, are no more than 30 feet away from the exterior wall of windows. Low partitions between workstations balance Almac's desire for openness and the more private environments that American employees expect. To fulfill the company's goal for high energy efficiency and environmental sustainability, Francis Cauffman used motion sensors for lighting control, materials with recycled content, and low VOC (volatile organic compound) products.