Building 500 at Discovery Park - The story so far
Posted on 04/08/16
Building 500 at Discovery Park was Pfizer’s main base for drug discovery when it was completed at the turn of the millennium and with the arrival of its first new tenants that story is set to continue.
But it hasn’t been a case of just switching back on the lights, four years after the last of the company’s scientists left the building.
Bringing the building fully back online will be a long and complex process, but much progress has been made, allowing the restoration of this beautiful building’s reputation as a centre of excellence for cutting edge research.
Leading the work, is project manager Tony McIntyre who remembers how the building was – floor by floor – from his time as a Pfizer employee – and is now taking pride in its gradual transformation.
“It was a real vibrant place in Pfizer’s time with laboratories and facilities that were state-of-the-art. In many areas the offices are just as they were left on the final day.
“Our task has been to refurbish and update the building to suit its modern use as a science space for a number of tenants not just the single employer that it was originally built for.
“With that come a number of challenges from restoring basic services like power and heating to solving how to deliver bespoke ventilation and air pressure requirements.
“So far we have stripped out the ground floor, repaired and reinstated the atrium floor, where the building’s main café used to be and linked back services.
“Where we can we have left in original features from cantilevered shelving systems, glass panels showing drugs discovered at Building 500 and the flowing curved ceiling feature on all floors of the site.
“We have replaced carpets, painted and carried out repairs in the first section of the building and are in the process of completing the fitting out offices and laboratories to meet the requirements of prospective new tenants.”
Canterbury Christ Church University and East Kent College moved in earlier this year helping to directly link students to the cutting edge science taking place on site with more science tenants set to move in soon.
CCCU’s Industry Liaison laboratory is already getting attention for its work with biotech specialists Venomtech exploring the potential for new treatments for pancreatic cancer using the properties of venom.
East Kent College allows part of its new lab to be used for the Community Lab project, which provides schools across East Kent with access to the latest science equipment.
Just along the same corridor is the Shared lab space, which science companies who don’t want a lab of their own can use to carry out their research. Part of the building is also now available for both on-site and off-site events and meetings.
“Any project like this takes time – and money, of course, and will be ongoing overt the next few years with the building completed bit by bit as more tenants move in,” added Tony.
“But it’s a great one to be involved with – particularly for those of us who worked here in the past. It’s a really good feeling to see the site reinvented and brought back on stream.”
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