Plagued by delays, AstraZeneca HQ costs soar to £750M as it edges toward 2020 completion
In the latest update on AstraZeneca’s delay-prone HQ project, the pharma giant revealed that the cost of construction has swelled to £750 million ($956 million) — more than double the original estimate in 2013.
The move-in date is still in 2020, a spokesperson confirmed, after AstraZeneca pushed projected completion from 2016 to 2017, and then to the spring of 2019. While the initial plan called for a £330 million (then $500 million) investment, the cost ballooned to £500 million ($650 million), and more in the most recent update.
Last August, the company acknowledged it had switched out its original contractor Skanska for Mace, claiming the latter had more expertise in the scientific fit-out and commissioning. Construction Enquirer, the UK trade pub that first broke the news, cited water ingress and “issues with design and roof loadings.”
Weeks ago, CEO Pascal Soriot was quoted as saying that the delays had to do with validation for laboratories.
“You can’t compare it to an office building,” he said. “It’s a complex building. It’s going to be the best research and development building in the world.”
The spokesperson added “costs have risen due to the complexity of the build, construction cost inflation, and increased investment in new technologies and equipment as part of our ongoing investment in R&D.”
The new £750 million price tag, revealed in its annual report, puts AstraZeneca’s HQ — a 2-story, donut-shaped glass palace — among the most expensive corporate buildings in the UK. GlaxoSmithKline reportedly spent around £300 million on its digs in west London, where it has resided since 2002.
Soriot championed a relocation from London to Cambridge soon after he took the helm in 2012, kicking off a project intended to represent AstraZeneca’s bold embrace of new tech and its commitment to the UK’s biopharma hub as he turns around the company.
Image: Design of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. ASTRAZENECA