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Hankook breaks ground on research center

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DAEJEON, South Korea—Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. broke ground on a $260 million research and development center in Daejeon.

The Hankook Technodome will house more than 1,000 scientists and engineers and span more than 1 million square feet when it opens in 2016.

Hankook said the facility will become the backbone of its growth strategy to become a global top-tier tire brand based on technological leadership.

The center will be complemented by Hankook's Test Engineering Center in Sangju, South Korea, where Hankook is installing state-of-the-art tire testing facilities. The center will be commissioned in 2018.

The two R&D facilities will be core instruments of the company's overall R&D infrastructure, Hankook said. “We strongly believe that acquiring more robust, more advanced R&D capabilities is a crucial step in our growth formula toward becoming a global top-tier tire brand,” said Seung Hwa Suh, vice chairman and CEO of Hankook Tire.

The Technodome—designed by Foster+Partners, an architectural firm founded by noted British architect Sir Norman Foster—reflects Hankook's confidence in R&D and will be a meaningful milestone in the firm's history, Suh said.

“In addition,” he said at the ground-breaking, “combined with our proactive corporate culture, the high-tech R&D facility will provide a great foundation for us to realize a management structure based on quality and progressive leadership.”

The multi-story, open-atrium-design Technodome, to be built on a 17-acre site in Daejeon's Daeduk Innopolis designated research and development district, will become an “incubator for innovative new technologies,” Suh said.

The new structure is being designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold level certification and will house 90 separate laboratories that will enable a wide range of R&D activities to be carried out simultaneously, Hankook said.

Organized by the U.S. Green Building Council, the LEED program recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. In order to earn gold, building projects must satisfy a number of prerequisites and earn enough points to surpass lower levels of certification.

The facility's eco-friendly features include the use of natural ventilation and lighting, as well as resource recycling facilities and natural shades that reduce the dependency on the building's cooling system.

Parallel to building an R&D infrastructure, the company said it will invest in retaining and attracting the best engineers and researchers in the field. Hankook has about 700 researchers at its existing R&D center in Korea.