At a groundbreaking ceremony, Matthias Bürk, Head of Human Resources Germany at Merck and responsible for the headquarters refurbishment, as well as Darmstadt city councilwoman Cornelia Zuschke today marked the start of construction on a modular Innovation Center at the Darmstadt site. Simultaneously, a parking garage for employees and external contractors will be completed in the coming months. The construction projects are based on a long-term framework plan, which Merck, a leading company for top-quality high-tech products in the pharmaceutical and chemical sectors, is using to develop the Darmstadt site further in the coming years. The initiative is part of the Group-wide strategic "Fit for 2018" transformation and growth program, which aims to make Merck more efficient and innovative.
The effort will culminate in the construction of the final Innovation Center, a new Visitor Center and an employee restaurant as well as a newly designed square extending across Frankfurter Strasse, which is to connect both parts of the site. "This is a clear sign of our commitment to our home base, which we are modernizing to meet current and future needs in global competition. It will enable us to create attractive jobs for present and future employees," said Kai Beckmann, Merck Executive Board Member with responsibility for the Darmstadt site. Altogether, Merck is investing around € 25 million to build the modular Innovation Center and the parking garage. "Merck is an integral part of Darmstadt and a major economic player. The city is very pleased that the company is investing in the future of the site and that it is actively involved in the planning process," said city councilwoman Cornelia Zuschke. "I especially like the attractive urban design of the planned buildings on Frankfurter Strasse."
"The construction measures are part of the € 250 million investment earmarked for the Darmstadt site in 2013 and 2014. Added to this are other major projects, e.g. the recently commissioned energy station as well as a further co-generation plant currently under construction. All are crucial to maintaining our long-term competitiveness, and to securing the future of the Darmstadt site and the people who work there," explained Michael Fletterich, Chairman of the Merck Works Council in Darmstadt.
The building, which is designed to promote interdisciplinary and project-related collaboration on innovations, will be completed in spring 2015. "The construction of the modular Innovation Center is a visible sign of the further development of our site into a modern Group headquarters," said Beckmann. “The modular and subsequently the final Innovation Center will play a key role in promoting our innovative strength. We are creating the spatial preconditions for an attractive working environment that will further communication and unlock creativity.” Thanks to its module-based construction design, the modular Innovation Center will be finished in spring 2015, bridging the time until the final Innovation Center has been completed in 2017.
The operating concept for the modular Innovation Center was developed on the basis of intensive discussions throughout Merck as well as with external experts. The architects have given top priority to incorporating the needs and requirements of the Merck businesses and functions into the design. The two-storey building with a surface area of 3,700 square meters is being erected on the site premises east of Frankfurter Strasse and will temporarily also house a guest restaurant as well as conference rooms. Employees as well as Merck visitors will be able to freely access the public area; a separate area is reserved for the actual project teams. Open-plan offices can be flexibly designed so that employees can work together without any distraction for the duration of their project. "By ideally combining an inspiring setting and a functional atmosphere, we want to encourage employees to venture beyond their normal routines, explore new avenues of thought, and develop viable business models," explained Bürk.
Another construction project is underway in the immediate vicinity of the modular Innovation Center. Excavation work for a new parking garage has been progressing for several weeks now. The multi-story, 113-meter long and around 50-meter wide structure will replace parking spaces eliminated by the new buildings and ease the parking situation at the site. The parking garage, which will have 700 parking spaces, will be surrounded by trees and harmoniously integrated into the environment with mainly the greenery being visible from the main road. Apart from handicapped vehicle and motorcycle parking, eight electric recharging stations will be available.
Plans are currently also being developed to design Frankfurter Strasse in the area of the new Group headquarters. A new traffic census of the four-lane road is planned for September. This will help to ensure that the future design of the square extending across Frankfurter Strasse does not impede the flow of traffic. The design concept for the square will be presented to the public as soon as the plans have taken on concrete form.