LADOUX, France—Michelin officials have laid the cornerstone at the firm's Ladoux research campus for a multi-story building that will be the anchor of the firm's $370 million, six-year renovation/upgrade of its research and development facilities in France.
The new building, called Campus RDI (Research, Development, Industrialization), will be the tallest building on the sprawling campus that eventually will have 1,600 workers in 721,000 square feet of space.
Construction will last until 2018, Michelin said, although the first part of the building will be completed by year-end 2015, when 600 employees will be able to start working.
Michelin President Jean-Dominique Senard laid the cornerstone along with executive committee members, local elected officials and officials from the architecture, engineering and construction companies involved in the project.
Michelin originally disclosed plans for the R&D center upgrade in 2011.
More than 60 percent of the investment, or about $230 million, is devoted to the RDI alone, Michelin said.
Among the ideas is to create 80 modular “working platforms” of about 3,200 square feet each where 20 technicians can work in a “transverse and multidisciplinary” fashion. This mingling of disciplines previously isolated from each other is designed to strengthen the power of innovation and accelerate the marketing of products, the company said.
The new campus is being engineered with low energy consumption and to provide an optimal work environment for engineers and technicians.
Other features include a media room with 250 seats, an area dedicated to scientific and technical communication, an exhibition hall, a canteen, sports facilities, a bakery, many concierge services and a 1,040-foot long atrium—called “Innovation street”—that will be built over two of the complex's test tracks.
When completed, the site will accommodate 3,300 of Michelin's R&D staff in France, representing more than 350 trade disciplines in connection with research teams spread across other continents.
The R&D campus upgrade, codenamed “Urbalad,” started in 2011 with the razing of much of the center's existing structures to make way for the RDI.
The Ladoux complex, near Michelin's corporate headquarters in Clermont-Ferrand, covers 1,100 acres and has 19 test track layouts covering 25 miles in length.