Aldrich Chemical Company Research and Development Facility

Aldrich Chemical, a member of the Sigma-Aldrich family of companies, is a recognized leader in the research and fine chemicals market. Quality, selection and service are hallmarks of the Aldrich tradition. Their specialty product lines include Chiral Compounds, Combinatorial Chemistry, Flavors & Fragrances, Inorganics, Laboratory Chemicals, Organometallics, Polymer Products, Rare Chemicals, Stable Isotopes, Stains & Dyes, and Techware, Laboratory Equipment and Supplies.

Project Description: 

Aldrich Chemical, a member of the Sigma-Aldrich family of companies, is a recognized leader in the research and fine chemicals market. Quality, selection and service are hallmarks of the Aldrich tradition. Their specialty product lines include Chiral Compounds, Combinatorial Chemistry, Flavors & Fragrances, Inorganics, Laboratory Chemicals, Organometallics, Polymer Products, Rare Chemicals, Stable Isotopes, Stains & Dyes, and Techware, Laboratory Equipment and Supplies.

Aldrich’s primary production facility was located in the heart of downtown Milwaukee, amidst the sprawling interchange of Interstate 43 and Interstate 94. The State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation had initiated a plan to reconstruct the interchange and needed Aldrich Chemical to move out.

The Austin Company and Engberg Anderson Design Partnership teamed together to provide complete architectural and engineering services, from programming through construction administration. This project created and renovated nearly 400,000 SF at Aldrich’s Teutonia campus in Northwestern Milwaukee. The critical part of the project – replacing Aldrich’s production capacity – was a new 110,000 SF, state-of-the-art laboratory building that won an Association of Licensed Architects (ALA) national award.

The laboratory building included labs for production, research and development, quality control and all necessary support space, including offices, break areas, shipping and receiving and utilities. The nature of the work and materials in the production labs required damage-limiting construction, deflagration venting (including the State of Wisconsin’s largest pressure vent wall system utilizing a special configuration of Kalwall), specialized electrical systems and explosion-proof outlets.

The research and development laboratory design did not have as stringent requirements as the production labs, except that one lab matched a production lab to allow full-scale mock-ups. Quality Control performs two functions: testing all products before they can be packed and in-process testing. The Quality Control labs are classic organic and inorganic wet chemistry labs with inorganic instruments and chromatography. A stated goal of the plan was to develop a shared office environment with the module supporting the wet chemistry benches. This concept, known as a ‘ghost corridor’, created an internal suite of office and circulation that was directly open to the wet chemistry benches. This promoted a sense of openness and collegiality among the users.

A packaging center was designed to replace the existing facilities on St. Paul Avenue and took advantage of better proximity to raw materials, modern packaging technology and improved people and product flow. The rooms were designed with similar construction requirements as the production labs: any and every chemical Aldrich produces may be packaged in any of these rooms. In addition, systems were designed to streamline repetitive tasks and over-packing processes.

More than 300 employees worked in the administration building downtown and the building selected for renovation was not large enough to accommodate all of them, so an addition was designed to expand the existing building to keep all departments in close proximity to each other.

Project Stats: 

Square Footage: 400,000
Austin Services Provide: Design, Engineering

Location: 

Milwaukee, WI

Project Client: 

Aldrich Chemical Company 

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