Bayer CropScience begins $33 million headquarters renovation

Bayer CropScience is giving its Research Triangle Park headquarters a $33 million facelift.

The renovations to its North American headquarters are designed to bring more of the company’s employees together in one area and allow for more growth. CEO Jim Blome said the site will be the home to about 700 workers within the next three years.

The agribusiness now has about 500 workers on its RTP campus and about 140 employees in three other Triangle locations.

The renovations started Oct. 1 with demolition and are scheduled to be completed in 2015.

Blome said the renovations are needed not only for growth but to create better interactions between scientists and other employees.

“We’re going from a 1978-designed building and taking a leap,” he said in a phone interview.

The company inherited the 160,000-square-foot building when it acquired Aventis CropScience in 2001.

“Think of a cruise ship,” he said. “That’s what it’s like, narrow corridors lined with doors.”

The new space will bring in more natural light and add collaboration spaces. Blome said the goal is a neighborhood feel with departments being close enough – and open enough – for easy interactions.

The building also will house a cafeteria, a wellness center with a medical office, an employee store and a dedicated conference center.

Blome said the end result will be more inviting and more impressive – key to enhancing the company’s brand with potential vendors and employees in a competitive market.

More room to expand

The renovation is the latest in a series of investments Bayer CropScience has made at the site.

Last year, it moved its global Seeds headquarters to RTP from France and opened a $20 million, 60,000-square-foot greenhouse. This year, it spent $16.1 million renovating and expanding its labs and began building a $2.1 million bee research facility to focus on figuring out what’s behind the decline in the bee population worldwide. That facility is scheduled to be completed in late February.

Blome said there is still a need for more greenhouse space and lab facilities. There is room for both on 70 adjacent acres that the company bought last year, but there is no timetable for moving forward on those projects, he said.

“We’ve got 7 billion people, and we’re going to 9 billion with no more land,” he said, explaining the company’s investments. “… We have to be able to feed all these people. There’s a lot of science being thrown at that.”

Bayer CropScience is a subsidiary of the German conglomerate Bayer. It produces seeds and crop-protection products such as insecticides. It has regional headquarters in France, Brazil and Singapore.

Blome said the investment in North America is a strategic decision by the company to invest in biotechnology.

“The U.S. and Brazil are feeding world,” he said, “and that’s where the leading technology and farming operations are right now.”