Real estate

Construction sources buzzing about a new set of headaches and hurdles facing AstraZeneca’s beleaguered, $650M HQ project

Has AstraZeneca’s gleaming, $650 million HQ project in Cambridge, UK hit a new set of delays and cost overruns?

Those are the big questions that the pharma giant faces in the wake of a local report in one of the country’s construction trade magazines that AstraZeneca is looking to dump Skanska and bring in a new contractor to finish off the circular glass palace.

Pascal Soriot

Envisioned by AstraZeneca as an emblem of its ambitious embrace of new technologies and a celebration of open office R&D soon after Pascal Soriot took over as CEO in 2012, the pharma giant long ago had to scrap the original goal of finishing in 2016 — later pushed back to the fall of 2017 and then the spring of next year — at a cost of £330 million. The newly revised cost swelled more than 50%, and now the Construction Enquirer is quoting local building sources who say the project remains mired in troublesome issues.

The key quote:

It seems the project is facing delays of approximately two years, caused by water ingress into the basement because of the high water table requiring a lot of remedial work. There have also been issues with design and roof loadings.

There is a general amazement that after over two years the building still presents as a shell and core project with very little services, containment, switchgear or cabling installed.

Design of AstraZeneca’s Cambridge Biomedical Campus

AstraZeneca officials have been discussing a staged move-in of local staff, which has swelled in anticipation of the grand opening as the company shuttered other labs. But if Skanska is out and they need to bring in a new contractor to size things up at this stage, there’s no telling exactly when they could expect the grand opening.

Company officials refused comment to the magazine and media contacts haven’t responded to my queries.


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