Elion-Hitchings Building Tour

  1. As discussed in my post last week, I had the opportunity on Saturday to tour the old Burroughs-Wellcome US headquarters building in Research Triangle Park, NC. Designed in 1969 by architect Paul Rudolph, the building was completed in 1972. The building became known as the Elion-Hitchings Building after BW scientists Trudy Elion and George Hitchings shared the 1988 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Sir James Black.

    The building was acquired by Glaxo when they merged with Wellcome in 1995 (Glaxo had built its US headquarters in RTP in 1983, just north of the BW property.).

    Now GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the company began liquidating buildings and consumer products over the last two years. When they announced their intent to sell the Elion-Hitchings Building in April, 2011, I suggested that someone purchase it to fashion into hipster condominiums. My hopes were dashed when United Therapeutics purchased it and two other buildings for $17.5 million in late June of this year. United Therapeutics has a 55-acre lot adjacent to the GSK property where they’ve constructed a new headquarters building of their own.

    What follows is a Storify compilation of my tweets from Saturday with photos that I sent out. I’ll post other photos later.

  2. davidkroll
    Triangle folks: You can still come to tour the Elion-Hitchings Bldg in RTP today 9:00 – 12:40 for $15 at door http://bit.ly/T5YrxE
  3. davidkroll
    Just arrived at former GSK-held Elion-Hitchings Bldg, now owned by United Therapeutics. http://pic.twitter.com/qOiH8kf7
  4. sciencegeist
    @davidkroll It looks like the building is held up by giant lab jacks
  5. davidkroll
    You can’t erase the GSK. Logo outline on frosted glass. #elionhitchings http://pic.twitter.com/RiJPqN3a
  6. davidkroll
    I wonder if GSK was still paying these 1996-97 wages? #elionhitchings http://pic.twitter.com/okKeIVAU
  7. davidkroll
    This was the view for the executive secretarial pool. RTP requires that 40% of lots remain wooded #elionhitchings http://pic.twitter.com/YGGT75i4
  8. sbeckwral
    @davidkroll Very cool! Didn’t know that stat!
  9. Since Stephanie is a news producer for WRAL-TV in Raleigh, I thought I should do some fact-checking and find the source for this factoid once I got home. Turns out that I was wrong — I underestimated the wooded requirement.

    According to RTP’s Land Management plan, the built-up area of each lot is limited to 30%, leaving much more of the pine forest than I had originally cited.

  10. davidkroll
    The #elionhitchings patio where Christopher Walken and Natalie Wood appeared in “Brainstorm”; Burroughs-Wellcome then http://pic.twitter.com/AO67RfIK
  11. ProteinWrangler
    @davidkroll really cool building. just read it was in the movie “Brainstorm.” thought it looked familiar. thanks for sharing!
  12. I then realized that bombarding my Twitter followers with my tour photos required an explanation:
  13. davidkroll
    If my timeline is wondering what I’m writing about: I’m touring the 1966 Paul Rudolph creation that was US HQ for Burroughs-Wellcome…
  14. davidkroll
    The bldg was acquired by Glaxo and its subsequent iterations. Sold to United Therapeutics recently. First time open to public in decades.
  15. davidkroll
    One drawback to working in such an angular building: #elionhitchings http://pic.twitter.com/IvpaFt9X
  16. davidkroll
    2nd floor offices have nicer views than 5th (exec) floor. Hex design bring you closer to trees #elionhitchings http://pic.twitter.com/2YzFSHVQ
  17. davidkroll
    Can any GSKers tell us why all #elionhitchings bldg rooms have the MAI prefix? http://pic.twitter.com/zOnsbEbF
  18. collabchem
    Thank you @davidkroll great building, like a trippy Escher drawing but whiteboards were insightful big pharma relics http://pic.twitter.com/1S3T9nZ1
  19. MaverickNY
    @davidkroll like being stuck in a time warp, for posterity
  20. collabchem
    Thank you @davidkroll great building, like a trippy Escher drawing but whiteboards were insightful big pharma relics http://pic.twitter.com/1S3T9nZ1
  21. The story here is that I had originally purchased three tickets for later in the day before I realized that the time conflicted with my daughter’s soccer match. So on Friday night, I ran a little Twitter contest to give away these tickets.

    ADME-Tox guru and Collaborative Chemistry writer Sean Ekins was fortunately able to use one of my tickets — and I’m glad he did because his post on the visit is truly elegant and reflective on the metaphors this building holds for the past and present state of drug discovery. He also has much cleaner photos than I do here.

  22. collabchem
    Pharma architecture and informatics, whiteboards as the silo of ideas, symbol of demise: http://www.collabchem.com/2012/10/21/pharma-architecture-and-informatics-whiteboards-as-the-silo-of-ideas-symbol-of-demise/ ThankU @davidkroll for Ticket
  23. And from the organizer:
  24. georgesmartTMH
    Thanks to the over 300 people who came and visited the Burroughs Wellcome building this morning…..and thanks to… http://fb.me/1FpDobZb5
  25. Many thanks to George Smart and Triangle Modernist Houses for making this tour possible. Volunteers told me that George had been negotiating this tour for several years. The vacancy made by the GSK sale to United Therapeutics provided an excellent time for the tour to take place.

    Thank you to all involved in making this possible.

One thought on “Elion-Hitchings Building Tour

  1. MAI designated that the building was the Main building on the Cornwallis Road campus after Burroughs Wellcome Co. and Glaxo merged in 1995. In 1997 I suggested that the building be named after Trudy Elion and George Hitchings – Nobel Prize winners who worked at the site….

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