Published March 18, 2008
Volume 16, Number 3

Roche Molecular Diagnostics Opens New Research Building
$57.5 Million Facility Research Facility Goes Green with LEED Certification

Roche’s new facility features dramatic architecture and a sprawling
courtyard, above. The facility contains a variety of high-tech labs, right.

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

February 29 was a special day for Roche Molecular Diagnostics (RMD) and Hacienda, and not just because of leap year. That Friday marked the completion of an employee move-in at the newly constructed Roche research building, a three-story,135,000-square-foot structure on the pharmaceutical giant’s 33-acre Pleasanton campus. The $57.5 million R&D center has been designed to house the dedicated scientists furthering RMD’s Nobel Prize-winning polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology, bringing them together with related business groups under one roof.

The LEED-certified building and its surroundings incorporate a multitude of features that demonstrate Roche’s commitment to environmentally friendly practices. Outside, bioswales rim the parking lots, filtering silt and pollution from surface runoff before it reaches storm sewers. Drought-tolerant plantings and efficient underground drip irrigation cut down on water consumption, while a “cool” roof and high-performance exterior glazing reduce thermal gain or loss. Interior energy-savers include a low-pressure drop HVAC system, demand-controlled ventilation in office areas, and low-water-use fixtures in lavatories.

Other green aspects include the use of high-recycle materials in carpet, ceiling tiles, insulation, and structural steel; low-VOC-emitting adhesives, paints, and sealants; and a highly efficient T-8 lighting system and indirect lighting, along with motion controls.

Labs for core research, core chemistry, human genetics, infectious diseases, genomics and oncology, and R&D services take up the first two levels of the building, while the third floor (half of which is shell space, reserved for future growth) is strictly offices. During design there was a “fairly significant” change in office configuration, remarks Greg Canfield, the company’s senior director of Facilities Management and Planning. “Our CEO, Daniel O’Day, came on board during the planning process. He’s a big proponent of open offices and requested a full open-office plan.” Since many in the incoming business group had been used to working in private offices, Roche and its interior design partner, Pivot Interiors (see story below), were determined to come up with attractive solutions to ease the transition. “We worked closely with Dan to make sure we did it right, selecting a very nice wood system from Herman Miller, a big supporter of green construction. The feedback I’ve heard from our employees since we’ve moved in is positive,” Canfield reports.

Stretching out over three weeks, the move went smoothly, continues Canfield, who has logged several years of experience in this area. Laboratory moves are more complex than office moves because of all the little details requiring attention, he notes. Some materials need to be kept at constant temperatures, while others demand special expertise and permits before they can be transported. Thanks to several months of meticulous planning, the phased move-in presented no surprises.

There is more to come, however. Employees—and others—are wondering about the subject of the Scott Donahue sculpture to be unveiled at the facility’s grand opening in early April. Based in Emeryville, Donahue has designed and fabricated dozens of public art projects in California and beyond. Many of his works depict historical figures, all striking and larger than life.

More information about RMD can be found on its web site, www.molecular.roche.com


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