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Rudolph and Sletten: Building biotech facilities in San Diego for two decades

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The quality of scientific research within the field of biotechnology often depends on the caliber and capability of the industry's labs and research facilities. Quality science and quality construction converge at Rudolph and Sletten, one of the state's leading builders of biotechnology facilities.

Rudolph and Sletten delivers over four decades of construction experience to its biotechnology projects. The company has constructed tens of millions of square feet of biotech space for clients such as Johnson & Johnson, Amgen, Novartis, Genentech, Gilead Sciences and the Salk Research Institute. Because of its contributions to the field, Rudolph and Sletten has been awarded the prestigious Lab of the Year honor four times by R&D Magazine.

Rudolph and Sletten is known for its ability to provide a diverse range of services to many companies within the industry, from emerging companies to large pharmaceutical organizations and major academic institutions. In addition to building facilities for research and development, Rudolph and Sletten also constructs projects including bench-top manufacturing to full-scale cGMP manufacturing.

A look at the interior of the J. David Gladstone Institutes' Mission Bay Lab Building. Photo: John Durant

Rudolph and Sletten brought its extensive background and portfolio of biotechnology and pharmaceutical construction experience to San Diego over 20 years ago to partner with leaders such as Biogen Idec and the Scripps Research Institute. In the San Diego region, Rudolph and Sletten has worked on more than 100 pharmaceutical manufacturing and research facility projects for clients such as Elan Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

Rudolph and Sletten grew with the industry as research and discovery technology was transferred from the academia environment to commercial privatization. Rudolph and Sletten worked in tandem with design firms to construct facilities to house these new technologies, initially building bench-top applications, small-scale cGMP manufacturing facilities and pilot plants. It later constructed clinical manufacturing and full-scale campus production facilities for Genencor, Genentech and Chiron (now Novartis).

Rudolph and Sletten's contributions to the biotechnology industry were further enriched by its extensive construction experience within the micro electronic and semiconductor industries. While building facilities in those sectors, Rudolph and Sletten gained wide experience with high-tech manufacturing processes, including sterile production and aseptic production. It also gained early knowledge in process capabilities, including piping systems and controls in automation.

Many processes that the company has been instrumental in implementing are now standard practice within the industry. Successful clean room protocol experiences that Rudolph and Sletten developed while constructing micro electronics and semiconductors facilities were brought over to the development of pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity. Its early experience in the industry included developing some of the early cGMP qualifications.

Rudolph and Sletten was one of the early users of building information modeling (BIM) within the biotechnology industry, bringing 3-D coordination and overlay to the table more than 20 years ago. In the mid-'90s, long before the green movement was popular, the company constructed one of the first sustainable headquarters for a pharmaceutical company, Shaklee Corp., in Pleasanton.

"We've been able to work with both clients and designers to come up with cost effective solutions," said Martin Sisemore, CEO and president of Rudolph and Sletten. "Our success is due to several factors: quality and well educated employees, a penchant for innovation, technical capabilities, understanding of how to build all the process systems and our relationships with the principal subcontractors. We have a strong ability to plan, organize, budget and then facilitate the construction, and we offer in-house mechanical, electrical and plumbing expertise."

Submitted by Rudolph and Sletten

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