DAEJEON, South KoreaHankook Tire Co. Ltd. has broken ground on a $260 million research and development center in Daejeon, a million-plus-sq.-ft. facility that will house more than 1,000 scientists and engineers when it opens in 2016.
Dubbed the Hankook Technodome, the new center, will become the backbone of the company's vision and growth strategy to become a global top-tier tire brand based on technological leadership, the firm said.
The center will be complemented by Hankook's Test Engineering Center in Sangju, South Korea, where Hankook is installing state-of-the-art tire testing facilities. The center will be commissioned in 2018.
Together, the two R&D facilities will be core instruments of the company's overall R&D infrastructure, Hankook said.
We strongly believe that acquiring more robust, more advanced R&D capabilities is a crucial step in our growth formula towards becoming a global top-tier tire brand, said Seung Hwa Suh, vice chairman and CEO of Hankook Tire.
The Technodomedesigned by Foster+Partners, an architectural firm founded by noted British architect Sir Norman Fosterreflects Hankook's confidence in R&D and will be a meaningful milestone in the firm's history, Mr. Suh said.
In addition, he said at the ground-breaking, combined with our proactive corporate culture, the high-tech R&D facility will provide a great foundation for us to realize a management structure based on quality and progressive leadership.
The multi-story, open-atrium-design Technodome, to be built on a 17-acre site in Daejeon's Daeduk Innopolis designated research and development district, will become an incubator for innovative new technologies, Mr. Suh added.
The new structure, which is being designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Level certification, will house 90 separate laboratories that will enable a wide range of R&D activities to be carried out simultaneously, Hankook said.
Organized by the U.S. Green Building Council, the LEED program recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices.
In order to earn Gold, building projects must satisfy a number of prerequisites and earn enough points to surpass lower levels of certification.
Among the facility's eco-friendly features are the use of natural ventilation and lighting, as well as resource recycling facilities and natural shades that reduce the dependency on the building's cooling system.
Parallel to building an R&D infrastructure, the company said it will invest in retaining and attracting the best engineers and researchers in the field. Hankook has about 700 researchers at its exisiting R&D center in Korea.
The building's design also will enhance Hankook's Proactive Culture approach, the company said.
The main research building will consist of 10 separate offices, but all of them will be under one roof, signifying the importance of unity within the company.
The Technodome also will incorporate a healthcare center, a fitness center and a multimedia room to promote employee welfare and a healthy work-life balance, according to Hankook.