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AstraZeneca confirms completion of its Cambridge HQ will be delayed to 2020 and announces change of contractor


By Paul Brackley


How AstraZenecas stunning new global HQ and R&D centre will look when completed
How AstraZenecas stunning new global HQ and R&D centre will look when completed

Skanska replaced with Mace to complete £500million Cambridge Biomedical Campus building

An aerial view of how the AstraZeneca site will look at Cambridge Biomedical Campus
An aerial view of how the AstraZeneca site will look at Cambridge Biomedical Campus

AstraZeneca has confirmed to the Cambridge Independent that it will not be occupying its new Cambridge Biomedical Campus building until 2020, and it has replaced its contractor Skanska with Mace.

The biopharmaceutical company had hoped that staff would begin moving into its stunning new global headquarters and research and development centre in 2019, but the complexity of the build and engineering challenges have caused the timetable on the huge project to slip.

It was announced on Wednesday (August 22) on the site that contractor Skanska, which has been AstraZeneca’s partner for the build project since 2014, is being replaced with Mace. Staff are expected to transfer to the new contractor.

A spokeswoman for AstraZeneca told the Cambridge Independent: “We are entering into a different phase of the project and a different skillset is needed.

An artists impression of the AstraZeneca development at Cambridge Biomedical Campus
An artists impression of the AstraZeneca development at Cambridge Biomedical Campus

“We’ve shifted into the scientific fit-out and commissioning and have looked at the best partners for that.

“It’s part of an ongoing review that a project of this size will always have. There was a recognised need to evolve now the frame is in place and the outside is done.”

Skanska and Mace will now work together on a handover, the spokeswoman confirmed.

“We are going to work on a transition phase. The site teams will work alongside each other for a couple of months.

An artists impression of the new ground floor teaching lab at AstraZeneca
An artists impression of the new ground floor teaching lab at AstraZeneca

“Mace will take full control from November, we anticipate. Changes from construction manager to construction manager take a couple of months and we want to do this well and ensure all the workstreams transition over the right way,” she said.

The spokeswoman confirmed that the complexity of the project had led to the anticipated opening date being put back.

“There are some engineeering and design issues on site, not related to who the construction manager is. It is really complex. We want to get it right rather than get it fast.

“We are anticipating that it will move into 2020,” she said. “With a change of construction manager, Mace will be assessing that.”

Concept drawing of second floor lab at AstraZeneca in Cambridge
Concept drawing of second floor lab at AstraZeneca in Cambridge

AstraZeneca staff are occupying a number of buildings in Cambridge, and working alongside their colleagues at MedImmune, its global biologics arm on Granta Park.

“We have 2,600 people now. It is a big community. The new-build will optimise everything, but it is not in the critical path for us being in Cambridge and doing collaborations the way we wanted to,” said the spokeswoman.

As the Cambridge Independent has reported, AstraZeneca has worked on a host of collaborations as it has stepped up its Cambridge presence, notably with the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology on Cambridge Biomedical Campus, and with LUMICKS and the University of Cambridge.

The decision to change contractor will come as a blow to Skanska, however. In June, it was announced that it is having to to undo work on the neighbouring £165million Royal Papworth Hospital building because of fire safety concerns over its use of cladding in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.

The inner courtyard at AstraZenecas new Cambridge Biomedical Campus HQ & R&D centre
The inner courtyard at AstraZenecas new Cambridge Biomedical Campus HQ & R&D centre

A spokeswoman for Skanska told the Cambridge Independent: “AstraZeneca (AZ) and Skanska UK have agreed to end their association in relation to the AZ headquarters building on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

“Skanska has worked with AZ on this project since 2014.

“The remainder of the works will be carried out by a construction manager. Skanska’s contract will end in November 2018. In the meantime, there will be a transition period where Skanska will work together with AZ, the supply chain and the appointed construction manager to ensure that progress on the project is not affected.”

And the spokeswoman confirmed: “Our workforce will transfer to the new contractor, so we’re not expecting any job losses at Skanska.”

At the topping out ceremony for the AstraZeneca building on Cambridge Biomedical Campus in April 2017 are, from left Duncan Maskell, Anders Danielsson, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot, and Mene Pangalos. Picture: Keith Heppell
At the topping out ceremony for the AstraZeneca building on Cambridge Biomedical Campus in April 2017 are, from left Duncan Maskell, Anders Danielsson, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot, and Mene Pangalos. Picture: Keith Heppell

Gregor Craig, president and CEO, Skanska UK, added: “The decision to part ways has been taken between Skanska and AstraZeneca, following constructive discussion over recent weeks. The Skanska team has made a valuable contribution to the project and achieved a great deal. Our focus now is to conclude our activities and transition the team in the most effective way possible.”

A topping-out ceremony for the building was held in April 2017, following two million construction hours by the contractor.

Skanska was also replaced by Mace on the £1billion-plus phase two contract at the Battersea Power Station redevelopment in London last autumn, following a decision by the development company to seek an “alternative construction management procurement route” for the next phase, following two and a half years of work by the contractor.

Mark Holmes, Mace’s chief operating officer for consultancy, said: “We are very proud to be appointed to complete the scientific fit-out and commissioning phase of AstraZeneca’s new global corporate headquarters and strategic R&D centre in Cambridge, and we look forward to working with them to deliver this vital project. AstraZeneca is one the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies, and its important work has a positive impact on millions of lives across the world every day.”

Concept drawing of AstraZeneca at Cambridge Biomedical Campus
Concept drawing of AstraZeneca at Cambridge Biomedical Campus

Read more

AstraZeneca’s CEO Pascal Soriot in pledge to patients as £500m Cambridge site is topped out

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot heralds new era of collaboration in Homerton College lecture

Concept drawing of AstraZeneca courtyard at Cambridge Biomedical Campus
Concept drawing of AstraZeneca courtyard at Cambridge Biomedical Campus

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