Astra Zeneca completed the move into the first two of its four new office buildings on Dec. 7.  It took three months to relocate some 1,200 employees to the Brandywine Hundred site from Wayne, Pa., and leased space in the Wilmington area. Another 1,000 or so are expected to be accommodated when the other two structures which make up the first phase of the company's planned expansion are finished soon after the turn of the year.

The investment so far, according to Arnie Caine, vice president of facilities, engineering and corporate services, is in the neighborhood of $200 million.

The company still expects to complete the expansion, which involves erecting three more buildings by 2007. But, he said, no decision has yet been made on when to proceed with the second phase.

While the scope of the pharmaceutical company's building project has been obvious for more than a

year to motorists passing through the site along Powder Mill Road, the outward appearance of structures barely hints at the extent of both architectural and technological innovation to be found inside them.

"We intended for everything to be high-tech while, at the same time, preserving a sense of openness in an inviting atmosphere," Caine said.

The two buildings on what the company calls its north campus -- north of the road -- have been named Alapocas and Brandywine. Those on the south campus are to be Chesapeake and Delaware. The Alapocas lobby serves as the main and visitor entrance to the entire complex.

The names were set after employees were polled electronically as to their suitability.

As is the situation throughout corporate America, and elsewhere, security is tight but not oppressive. As a card reader activates a revolving door permitting entry into the

The three-story-tall entrance lobby conveys a feeling of spaciousness. For perspective, note the man going up the staircase behind the partial wall.

interior of the building, a visitor is tempted to react by saying something like, 'Beam me up, Scotty'.

Inside there is little to be found which suggests what might be considered the feel of a traditional office building.

From electronic bulletin boards to wiring which makes it possible to connect laptop computers to the company's internal network from literally every place in the buildings, the layout is structured to provide a state-of-the-art, although comfortable work environment

Caine said that the older buildings in the Astra Zeneca complex will be refurbished, but with an acceptance of the reality that they cannot be made to match the new ones.

While there is an understandable emphasis on the newness, he said that already is beginning to give way to an appreciation of functionality. "We've got quite a bit of positive feedback, both from our own people and others," he said.

On following pages of this article, Delaforum provides the public with the first opportunity to take a photo tour of the new buildings.


Posted on December 11, 2002

2002. All rights reserved.

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