AstraZeneca R&D Centre and Corporate Headquarters, Cambridge
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AstraZeneca R&D Centre and Corporate Headquarters, Cambridge

British-Swedish pharmaceutical and biologics company AstraZeneca is building a global research and development (R&D) centre and corporate headquarters at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus (CBC) in Cambridge, UK.

Project Type

Research and development centre and corporate headquarters


Cambridge, UK

Expected Start of Construction

Early 2015

Expected Completion



British-Swedish pharmaceutical and biologics company AstraZeneca is building a global research and development (R&D) centre and corporate headquarters at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus (CBC) in Cambridge, UK.

The project is part of the company’s strategic effort to establish global R&D centres in the UK, US and Sweden in order to improve its pipeline productivity and biopharmaceutical innovation.

AstraZeneca is investing around £330m ($500m) to build the facility, which will be AstraZeneca’s new global corporate headquarters and is expected to employ around 2,000 people.

Initial construction works on the project began in February 2015, after the project was given planning permission by Cambridge City Council earlier in the month.

The facility’s construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

Details of AstraZeneca’s R&D facility in Cambridge

The facility at the CBC was commissioned to produce the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) rosuvastatin calcium for the worldwide supply of Crestor, a once-a-day treatment for dyslipidaemia.

The facility will cover around 11 acres and benefit from the central Cambridge location and strong infrastructure links. The project involves building a global R&D centre, an R&D-enabling building and an energy centre.

The global R&D centre will contain high-tech labs with glass walls to enhance visibility, a number of open spaces and pathways to encourage collaboration within the company and the CBC campus, among other features.

The R&D-enabling building will host operations to support AstraZeneca’s scientific work, including the company’s regulatory affairs and commercial units. The energy centre will be equipped with power generators, heating and cooling systems, information technology (IT) and other telecommunications systems.

AstraZeneca’s small molecule and biologics R&D activities and protein-engineering capabilities carried out at its MedImmune biologics division will be consolidated at the facility. Scientists from AstraZeneca and MedImmune will work together to advance science in core therapeutic areas.

The site will be the company’s biggest centre for oncology research. It will also host research on respiratory, inflammation and autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, as well as conditions of the central nervous system.

The centre will also accommodate a number of the company’s pre-clinical research capabilities. Other global functions will join the R&D teams at Cambridge once the building is completed.

Design of the AstraZeneca R&D facility in Cambridge

“AstraZeneca is investing around £330m ($500m) to build the facility, which is expected to employ around 2,000 people.”

AstraZeneca first unveiled designs for its proposed R&D centre and corporate headquarters in July 2014. The building’s shape is inspired by historical colleges in central Cambridge, which are typically designed with less height than traditional colleges and include enclosed central courtyards.

The entire building will be constructed in a single loop to provide short connections. It will feature modern and innovative workspaces to encourage collaborative working.

The roof will replicate a saw-tooth roof continuing through the façade. This is intended to unite the visual aspect of the building.

A proposed two-storey disc structure of a unique oval shape creates an uninterrupted, protected walk along the building’s interior. The disc will have laboratories and other amenities with a porous ground floor, and is intended to provide a spatial feel by framing a central courtyard.

A courtyard will be open to the public, with three main entrances to the building. The centre of the courtyard will have trees and a lawn to provide places for recreation and informal meetings.

The building’s internal design elevates visible science in a synergetic environment. Laboratories are separated from work and other spaces by semi-transparent partitions.

The building’s first and second levels will have a ring area overlooking the central courtyard, leaving a large number of spaces and arrangements. The roof will bring natural light into deep floor plates.

Construction of the Cambridge R&D facility

AstraZeneca’s facility at the CBC will consist of a north and south plot. During the first phase of construction, the R&D centre and corporate headquarters with a central courtyard are being built on the north plot. The R&D-enabling building and energy centre are being built on the south plot.

The next phases include the development of a series of buildings on the south plot with an enclosed park, similar to the courtyard on the north plot. Consistency in the design of the north and south plots will unify all buildings.

The concrete frame of the R&D centre building was built by April 2017. The installation of the roof and external glass cladding, as well as the internal fit-out, is anticipated to be completed in the second half of 2017.

Sustainability profile of the facility

AstraZeneca is obtaining Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) Excellent status for the proposed site.

The site will feature labs that adopt best practices in low-energy design and the largest ground source heat pump in Europe, while the majority of the buildings on the site will have green roofs.

Architects and contractors for the AstraZeneca R&D centre

In November 2013, AstraZeneca chose Swiss architecture firm Herzog and de Meuron Basel to design the facility. In February 2015, Skanska won a contract for the project’s construction management.

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