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For Truebeck, Cutting-Edge Life Science Discovery Starts With Designing State-Of-The-Art Facilities

The Mission Bay Research and Development buildings at 499 Illinois St. in San Francisco

Rapid technological innovation in the Bay Area has fueled the growth of life science companies and their expanded real estate footprint in the region.

At the center of development, companies like Truebeck Construction, a design-build general contractor with an extensive portfolio of life science and pharmaceutical construction projects, is leveraging its expertise to lay the physical groundwork for scientific breakthroughs.

The region accounts for the majority of U.S. patents, and its proximity to major research universities and incubators has led to 6.4% year-over-year growth in the life science/pharma workforce, according to JLL. Expansion of the industry has led to increased demand for high-end life science manufacturing facilities, lab space and research and development centers. Even companies that have moved their headquarters out of the area have kept research and development local.

Life science is a core market for Truebeck, which started as a technical builder in 2007. The firm has leveraged its problem-solving skills, creativity, innovation and a knack for challenging the status quo to take on complex projects. It is that constant search for a challenge that puts the builder on par with the Silicon Valley startups that enlist its help.

"We thrive on solving complex engineering and construction projects," Truebeck co-founder David Becker said. "We want to build extraordinary structures, architectural marvels, the ambitious and the inspiring. Our culture is to explore, to innovate and to think unconventionally. That’s Truebeck."

A custom meeting space designed by Truebeck Construction

Truebeck’s savviness has earned it the trust of major life science companies like Illumina and Onyx Pharmaceuticals, which often represent an exclusive set of developers, owners and designers with needs highly specific to their industry. Life science tenants require higher floor-to-ceiling heights, more rooftop and shaft space for building HVAC systems, additional structural loading requirements and more electrical capacity than typical office uses.

“Choosing the right contractor with proven laboratory facility experience is also essential,” said Eric Simpson, Truebeck senior project executive. “Our experience with the life science community of developers and designers gives us a special understanding of this market, allowing us to be extremely valuable to life science clients, particularly those coming from out of state.”

The Truebeck playbook combines innovative previsualization techniques with an evolving knowledge of stringent code requirements for sterile facilities, FDA and EU compliance, coordination with specialty equipment and ever-changing lab equipment, mechanical systems and manufacturing guidelines.

The firm is an early adoptor of building information modeling. By utilizing 3D models, subcontractors can prefabricate much of their work off-site, reducing construction costs, improving safety and improving the performance of a building long after construction is complete.

It is the kind of creative thinking Onyx Pharmaceuticals had access to while renovating its life science campus.

Alexandria Real Estate Equities' 259 East Grand building in South San Francisco

In South San Francisco, Truebeck helped transform Onyx's 340K SF, three-building complex into a state-of-the-art facility. The build-out of the existing 249 East Grand building included a nuclear magnetic resonance room, tissue culture, biology, preclinical and chemistry lab. The new facilities also included fitness centers, break rooms, conference rooms and office space.

Truebeck used a design-build approach on the building shells and with the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems within the building interiors.

“The Onyx project was especially rewarding because we were part of the growth of a company that was developing innovative drug therapies focused on improving the lives of people with cancer. We are inspired by the missions of life science companies to improve health and well-being,” Becker said.

When clients are on the cusp of scientific progress, time-consuming mistakes cannot be part of the process. That includes the facility where the discoveries are made.

“Our construction approach and mindset is always to build it right the first time,” Becker said.

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