July 2008 Download PDF

Francis Cauffman Architects’s master plan helps adapt the operations of the Irish-based company to the U.S. market. The first phase of the headquarters accommodates two divisions of the company. Future phases will provide facilities for all five of Almac’s divisions.

PHILADELPHIA, PA, July 23, 2008 – 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 explained that the company needed to consolidate its operations which were distributed among several sites. He said, “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, which is designed to accommodate growth over the next five years, will be fully occupied in 2013.

According to Stephen Lebowitz, AIA, Francis Cauffman’s lead designer, the buildings express the synergy between Almac’s North American operations and its global headquarters in Northern Ireland. Lebowitz 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 their  European image, while adapting their business environment to the way that corporate America works. We also wanted to give Almac a distinct and integrated identity that would set the 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. 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 security, Francis Cauffman divided the office building into two zones, the public zone and the office zone. These 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% 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 to control lighting, materials with recycled content, and low VOC (volatile organic compound) products.

About Almac
Headquartered in Northern Ireland, Almac is a $750 million company that provides its services to more than 600 companies worldwide, including all of the market leaders. It has five business divisions, two of which are located in southeast Pennsylvania. The company has 2,000 employees throughout the U.S. and Europe. European operations are headquartered in Craigavon, Northern Ireland, with additional operations in Edinburgh.

About Francis Cauffman Architects
The largest architectural office in Philadelphia, Francis Cauffman has provided buildings for pharmaceutical companies, academic and scientific institutions, health systems, corporations, and government agencies since 1954. With a staff of 160 architects, planners, and interior designers, the firm is widely known for buildings producing break-through research and creativity. Francis Cauffman has worked with numerous global clients, including Johnson & Johnson, Glaxo Smith Kline, Merck & Company, Shire, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, and Wyeth.

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