Project background

Piramal, a large pharmaceutical firm, expanded its manufacturing capability in Scotland to serve the global market. The facility will manufacture antibody drug conjugates (ADC) that deliver chemotherapy agents to cancer cells. The facility will accommodate two new ADC manufacturing suites, which will be supported by analytical laboratories, good manufacturing practice warehousing and administration offices. The development was the first of three phases and was handed over to the client in autumn 2023. The future phases will include a new sterile fill/finish suite dedicated to ADCs and two additional large-scale manufacturing suites capable of handling increased batch sizes.

What did we do?

RSK companies Acies and KMG were appointed to undertake the civil and structural design of phase 1 of this new pharmaceutical manufacturing facility from planning through to issue of construction drawings. Following this, Acies’ contract was novated to the design and build contractor, Merit, to provide an ongoing Structural Engineers Registration certification role, as required for the Scottish Building Standards. The building structure was designed with long-span Westok beams to provide flexibility for the cleanroom layout and to accommodate service distribution, reducing the overall height of the building.

How did we do it?

Acies and KMG worked with pharmaceutical specialist consultant IPS on the design of the project, creating an integrated design team. We have a long-term working relationship with IPS so were able to develop coordinated designs to suit the tight design and construction programme for the project. This, together with our experience of working across multiple geographies, meant we were well placed to develop the designs through the challenges of working from home in 2020.

What challenges did we face or help to resolve?

The site is located in an area with very soft soils to a depth of 30 m below ground; this presented challenges for the foundation and externals design. The facility was designed with segregated drainage systems for domestic foul, non-toxic process and toxic wastes, plus the surface water drainage; this necessitated a complex network of pipework below the ground slab. As the building was the first of potentially three phases, the client asked us to design the building structure to allow for the future phases to be constructed with minimal disruption to the operational phase 1 facility.

How did we resolve those challenges?

Our experience of working on other buildings in the area meant we were able to apply this knowledge to design foundations to support both the building columns and the ground floor slab. The below ground drainage systems were integrated into the building information model to allow a full clash detection and coordination exercise to be undertaken, which avoided the potentially costly risk of clashes being identified on-site. We also included piles and pilecaps along adjoining elevations to accept the future phase columns. Double columns were used to avoid breaking through the phase 1 cladding.

What impact did our work have for the client?

The completion of this project means Piramal can now manufacture larger quantities of ADCs in Scotland. Research into ADCs has accelerated in the last three years or so, and this facility will serve the global market.