Roche said today it will spend CHF 3 billion ($3.15 billion) over the next 10 years on enhancements to its headquarters site in Basel, Switzerland. The pharma giant plans to construct a new R&D center for around 1,900 employees, build a new office building for up to 1,700 employees, upgrade existing buildings and infrastructure, and renovate the historic office building that houses its Corporate Executive Committee.
“Roche is committed long-term to Switzerland and to Basel in its dual role as corporate headquarters and one of our most important sites worldwide,” Roche CEO Severin Schwan said in a statement. “The entire value chain is represented in Basel. Employees from all parts of the company are making a vital contribution to Roche’s innovative strength, and we want to provide them with an attractive work environment. The new buildings will continue Roche’s tradition of elegant, distinctive and functional architecture.”
The R&D center, projected to cost CHF 1.7 billion (about $1.8 billion), will consist of four integrated office/laboratory buildings on the site of present Building 74, which will be demolished. The buildings—set to go into service between 2021 and 2022—will contain 950 office and 950 laboratory workplaces, all designed to facilitate communication and further strengthen teamwork among research staff.
Roche is also building an in vivo research facility on the site of Building 61 on Wettsteinallee. The facility “will meet the strictest current standards for experimental animal care” and is slated for completion in mid-2018, the company stated.
The next-costliest of the projects entails CHF 700 million ($735 million) in upgrades to most of Roche’s existing Basel buildings and infrastructure, including a logistics center designed to meet current energy consumption standards, safety, Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) guidelines and other requirements.
Existing buildings will continue to include Roche’s workshop, fire service, Medical Service and local site organization—though the current 1,500-space underground parking lot under Building 74 will disappear with the building, to be replaced by an underground parking garage just as large—as well as 1,500 new bicycle parking stands.
The new CHF 550 million ($577.9 million) “Building 2” office building will be about 50 stories tall and unite employees now spread at sites across the city of Basel. Building 2 is expected to be ready for occupation by 2021, Roche said.
Additionally, Roche will spend CHF 75 million ($78.7 million) to renovate historic Building 21, completed either in 1936 (according to the company’s website) or 1937 (according to today’s statement). Work is scheduled to begin in early 2016 and last around two years.
The renovation is intended to preserve the building’s appearance, with its solid stone edifice, while enhancing its energy efficiency and infrastructure, which even the company concedes is lacking: “Those who work in this building are still aware of its symbolic importance (even though they may be craving air conditioning on a hot summer day),” Roche states on its website.
Building 21 was designed by noted 20th century Swiss architect Otto Rudolf Salvisberg, who was Roche’s company architect and a co-designer of Berlin’s “White City” or Swiss Quarter, a prime example of Modernist architecture.
In handing over the keys to Building 21, the website adds, Salvisberg offered this dedication: “May this administrative building and the form it takes convey an impression of our time to future generations; may its wide open windows and bright interiors outlive the age of closed walls and bring good fortune and blessings to those who have built it.”