LADOUX, France (Jan. 27, 2011) — Group Michelin is planning a massive makeover/modernization of its 45-year-old research-and-development center complex in Ladoux at a budget of about $135 million over six years.
Codenamed “Urbalad,” the project will encompass several aspects, including razing most of the center's existing structures and replacing them with a modern, 721,000-sq.-ft. structure that will put a number of diverse R&D activities now located in separate buildings under one roof.
The new center, to be called Campus RDI—for Research, Development & Industrialization—will be designed to help foster new methods of interdisciplinary and transverse work the company feels will necessary to develop tires needed in the coming decades and will stimulate the fertilization of multidisciplinary ideas. It will house 1,600 workers, Michelin said.
The campus will include social amenities such as a restaurant, sports center and other personal services like dry cleaners, grocery store, ticket office, etc., Michelin said, and will feature a 1,0000-foot-long “avenue of research,” where employees will be able to gather and exchange ideas informally.
Michelin said evaluating the final architectural designs will take more than six months. Groundbreaking is expected in the spring of 2012 and will last five years.
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.
Michelin said there are 3,300 individuals working in the Ladoux complex now. It did not say in the release whether this project will mean a reduction in staffing or whether the remaining workers will be housed elsewhere.
Worldwide, Michelin employs more than 6,000 in R&D functions and will spend $665 million this year on R&D.