R&D Consolidations on the Rise
Dow announced development of a new R&D facility in Lake Jackson, consolidating several existing properties into one campus serving 2,000 employees. Kirksey science and technology team leader Brian Richard (looking oh-so artistic above, he’s designing this and recently wrapped up a new lab building for Shell) tells us energy companies are recommitting to R&D space, and the Dow and Shell projects demonstrate a larger trend in how energy companies design and build. Traditionally, Fortune 100 companies have had highly specialized labs for every facet of R&D. But now they're looking for advantages in economies of scale which include repetitive infrastructures and commercially delivered building projects.
Brian says the blending makes for more efficient buildings (especially in terms of front-end development costs and ownership/operating costs), and helps with company culture and employee retention. Here is Shell’s latest tech building on its Westhollow Campus—the 150k SF commercially delivered facility includes repetitive lab modules and high bay space. Employees and lab spaces are intermingled based on services they need rather than business unit—you even see upstream and downstream groups sharing space (never a bad thing to have a scientist in the office, especially for pranking purposes), a rare thing in the energy sector (it’s not unusual for them to be in separate buildings or even separate campuses).